Thirumalachari Ramasami: The role of science and technology policy in developing countries

November 6, 2017 1:18:24
Kaltura Video

Dr. T. Ramasami, former secretary of science and technology for India, as he discusses the role of science and technology policy in developing countries. November, 2017.


0:00:01: Good afternoon everyone. Welcome to the Ford School. I'm Michael Barr, the Joan and Sandy Weill Dean of this great institution. For those of you who are here, welcome physically; for those of you who are listening online, welcome virtually. Welcome to today's Policy Talks lecture, which is co-sponsored by our Science, Technology and Public Policy Program, the Department of Chemistry, the University of Michigan's Office of Research, and the Center For South Asian studies. Today's event is part of the Ford School's annual Citi Foundation Lecture Series, which enables the Ford School each year to bring some of the world's most prominent policy leaders and thinkers to our campus.

0:00:48: We're honored to be joined today by Dr. T. Ramasami, former Secretary of Science and Technology for India, who has traveled to be with us here today from Chennai. Dr. Ramasami is a highly distinguished scientist with an incredible record of scholarship and leadership. STPP Director Shobita Parthasarathy will introduce him more fully in a moment. But let me take this opportunity to thank him for coming, and for welcoming the many... Many appointments and meetings he's had with students and faculty already, and will over the coming days. We've packed a lot into his three-day visit, and I want to thank him for being so generous with his time.

0:01:33: And now, I'm very pleased to introduce my colleague Shobita, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Women's Studies and Director of the STPP Program, one of our very dynamic and interdisciplinary centers here at the Ford School. Shobita, along with former UM President Jim Duderstadt, founded the STPP Program in 2006. She is a widely cited expert on issues related to how we govern ethically and socially controversial science and technology policy issues. And she's particularly interested in how technological innovation and innovation systems can better achieve public interest and social justice goals. Shobita has done really interesting and important comparative work, looking across national borders to provide broadly significant insights. Her latest book, Patent Politics, was published last spring by the University of Chicago Press. Previously, she published Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Healthcare, from MIT Press. Findings from that first book influenced a major Supreme Court decision in 2013 that prohibited patents on isolated human genes. Shobita holds her BA in Biology from the University of Chicago, and a Master's and PhD in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell. Please join me in welcoming Shobita to the podium. Thank you.


0:03:07: Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you Michael for that lovely introduction. It's my great pleasure to introduce Dr. Thirumalachari Ramasami, who served the Government of India as the Secretary for Science and Technology, from May 2006 until 2014. He's currently a member of the Advisory Board on Education and Outreach for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. He's also an honorary professor at seven universities and institutes of national importance in India, including the prestigious Indian Institutes for Science, Education and Research. Dr. Ramasami holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Technology from the University of Madras, and a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Leeds, which I should say, my father also attended. He held postdoctoral fellowships and visiting positions in both the United States and UK, including Wayne State University in Detroit, before returning to India in the 1980s. He then joined India's Central Leather Research Institute as a senior scientist and eventually became its director.

0:04:16: As Dean Barr said, Dr. Ramasami is an accomplished scientist. He's contributed to more than 230 publications, published eight chapters in books, filed 41 patents, and developed 12 process know-hows. Furthermore, during his leadership, the Central Leather Research Institute emerged as a global leader in the field, generating the largest share of publications and patents related to leather research in the world. In 2006, Dr. Ramasami became the Secretary of Science and Technology for the Government of India, and held that position for eight years, a tenure that is quite rare, and a demonstration of his excellence in the position. During his time as secretary, India massively increased its research and development investments.

0:05:04: Dr. Ramasami was also instrumental in initiating 74 new programs, including efforts to increase and attract young people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to study science, to bring women back into the science and engineering workforce after marriage and family leaves, and to inspire science and technology development, both for and by poor and marginalized communities. He was instrumental in developing the 2013 Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Plan for the Government of India, and he has served as the Indian co-chair for the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, as well as the US-India Science And Technology Commission. Finally, Dr. Ramasami has been particularly noted for his efforts to think creatively about science and technology policy in low-resource settings, including research and development for public and social good, with a pro-poor orientation to technology and affordability of innovation. He also makes a compelling case for marrying collaborative excellence with competitive excellence models. And he will, I hope, discuss these themes in particular in his remarks today.

0:06:16: Dr. Ramasami's expertise and accomplishments have been widely recognized. He's the winner of more than 63 awards, including the 1993 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, which is India's highest recognition for scientists, and two of India's highest civilian honors for service, the Padma Shri, for his contributions to science and engineering in 2001, and the Padma Bhushan in 2014 for his service to science. He is also an elected fellow of five academies of sciences, including The World Academy of Sciences in Trieste, Italy. Following Dr. Ramasami's remarks, he'll take questions from the audience. Beginning around 4:40 PM, staff will start collecting question cards. Postdoctoral fellow Caroline Walsh, together with Ford School student Jackson Voss, and STPP and chemistry student Rachel Wallace, will facilitate the question and answer session. And for those of you watching online, please post your questions via Twitter using the #policytalks. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Dr. Ramasami to the podium.


0:07:32: Thank you very much. I thank Shobita for that generous introduction of some Ramasami that I do not know about. [chuckle] Thank you for those kind words. I thank the Dean, I thank the Ford School for this opportunity to be here today to share with you my understanding of the role of science and technology innovation policy in developing countries. I also thank the department for choosing the topic for me. It was a suggestion that came from the department. Of course, as somebody who had to add small addition to this title, I added the word 'global perspective'. But I was reminded of an anecdote in my early part of life. I did my PhD in University of Leeds, England, as was introduced to you earlier. And I had a colleague by name Julian Edward who was an Englishman who had a different kind of tongue, he wanted some spicy Indian food. So he used to join me with my dinner on many occasions. So I used to cook Indian food and serve him. After several occasions, one day he asked me, "Hey Sami, where are you getting the groceries from?" I said, "Well... " Let me say I was naïve, I said, "From Morrisons." "From Morrisons?" I said, "Yes." "So, this is not authentic Indian food. This is an Indian's food." I believe my global perspective also is going to be a worldview of an individual that happens to be Ramasami.

0:09:29: I share with you today such a perspective on this science and technology and innovation space. And this talk would have four parts. The first part would talk about the perceived roles of the STI policy, of course, in the developing country framework, but along the knowledge national prosperity axis. And one of the second parts will talk about general policy directions and the dilemmas of the developing world in formulating the STI policy. The part three will try to make a case for that collaborative excellence that Shobita talked about, for the building strategic alliances and partnerships among the developed and the developing economies to look at the technology needs of poorer nations in the world. And the part four will present a case study in a policy perspective and present a general summary of this worldview of this individual called Ramasami.

0:10:43: And if you look at this science and technology and innovation system, primarily it is a knowledge triangle where the sciences world over relates to an advanced knowledge, innovation on leadership in a usable knowledge, and technology gainful and useful knowledge. Primarily, all of us would agree that science, as we see as an advanced knowledge, is [0:11:14] ____ still scholarship driven world over. Innovation in the current perspective of the worldview is competition driven, and technology is primarily market driven. When nations have already reached a certain level of prosperity and distributed among their people, then those nations could focus on developing science, technology and innovation system where the knowledge itself becomes a premium on which we invest, so that we focus on the knowledge triangle.

0:11:51: But for those nations where the creation of knowledge itself is a perspective in a developed process is one kind, in the developing country perspective, we need to go back and ask, "How does that creation of knowledge lead to creation of jobs, creation of value, creation of wealth as well, and then contribute to the national prosperity?" Therefore, how do we connect the knowledge and the national prosperity axis in the STI framework becomes an important aspect of developing economies of the world. Having said this, I think it is appropriate to go back and see how the science being global and scholarship-driven would have a policy which aims at clearly the globally competitive positions for the nations and the people who pursue science primarily relying on scholarship as an input. The technology, on the other hand, is contextual. It is related to the [0:12:53] ____ mandate, so the stage at which the society is standing today in terms of requirements. And it is, as I said before, being market driven, one could ask a question, a technology policy would aim at access to globally competitive technologies through various market mechanisms through which these nations can access them and propel them.

0:13:16: Innovation as we see today, is competition driven, and in the case of economies, which have reached a certain level of economic prosperity and national prosperity, there it [0:13:27] ____ mounts on the global competitiveness being number X in the process. But in the developing country framework, we need to really look at balance between the competitiveness and also the kinds of differing priorities for the development process as a whole, because there are still gaps in the national prosperity space that need to be linked. And that's the kind of questions that I like to highlight today. If you were to look at the triangle of science, technology and innovation and superimpose it over the global space of developed and developing economies, there'd be different needs for... Depending upon the stage of development. The small countries which are already developed will have to focus attention on the STI policy to remain competitive in a market space. When the domestic market is small, they have to really look at it in the global markets. Therefore, they have to be continuously leapfrogging upon themselves to be able to remain competitive.

0:14:32: The large... The developed countries with a large domestic market, they had to invest into STI to remain advanced, because you have to... Many times in this global perspective you have to run fast to stay, otherwise, probably somebody else will overtake you. They remain advanced, there is a position as well. And there are large economies, large-sized countries, but still in the developing economy. In their case, how to spread their developmental choices to people. It is not about developing an infrastructure, it's a question of how do you develop developmental choices to people, becomes the key issue. The inclusiveness becomes an important dimension of such economies as well. There are small economies, in the developing phase of life, and they constantly would catch up with the world. Therefore, the science, technology, innovation policies in a global dynamics are driven by two opposing elements, I must say. There was a developmental agen... While the science is common to all of them, the scholarship activity, the technology which is related to the developmental processes for a developing country become crucial, and the countries which have a certain level of national prosperity and economic space, they need to look at this x-axis of global dyna... Market dynamics and stay afoot in the innovation space.

0:15:58: And having said this, the developmental needs of a science, technology, innovation policy of a developing country, it needs to go on a certain axis because the developing countries need them more than even the developed countries have, because the needs are... Unmet needs are quite large. But the resource availability for the developing economies to invest into STI are not probably matching with the needs that they have. Now if we look at the dimension of the two axes, they probably oppose, one, in terms of the needs, the developing countries need more, but the resources they have to invest is small, whereas the developed countries have the larger needs. Having said this, the kinds of differing priorities of nation states and knowledge economies vary.

0:16:54: The high income group countries, which is number 35 today and... 43 in number today, they focus on technology leadership. And their focus is essentially how to connect the high technology trade, how to connect to the technology trade to get a global share of the high technology trade. On the other hand, the upper middle income group countries and some small economies, they need to work on the global competitiveness and leadership in market place. And if you look at the innovation leaders in indices in the world, the top 10 economies, eight are small economies. You would see Finland, Israel, the countries which are smaller economies, where the domestic market size is small, and they need to connect their innovation space to be ahead in the global market, and therefore leadership in marketplace becomes a crucial issue. On the other hand, the low middle income group countries and developing countries belonging to the low income countries, I think their focus is not about leadership, it's about technologies for development, the unmet needs of development. And the crucial element of affordability and social inclusion becomes the key driving force of the science and technology innovation policy in such environments.

0:18:12: And if you look at the technology itself, I would say there's a dichotomous role for technology. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the world was not divided as developed and developing. But after the post-Industrial Revolution the world has come to be divided as developed and developing based on the ability to access technologies for intensive production. Now, in that sense, it is a divider. But if you look at the 20th century from the previous centuries, what differentiated is technology. The way people live today is strongly influenced by the access of technology. But in a cultural space like my own Indian cultural space, for example, technology also played the role of a social leveler and bridging social inequities that prevailed. Therefore, the dichotomous role that I present to technology as a global divider and a social leveler also makes technology a crucial element, and therefore STI policy of governments become fundamental.

0:19:16: And I talked about the policy dilemmas of the developing world, and if you look at the policy dilemmas of the developing world, the resources they have is fairly small, as I said before. Now, how much to invest in science and technology innovation as a percentage of GDP? That's a crucial issue, how much we invest. And we don't look at the gross expenditure on research and development of developed world as an expenditure but look at the gross investment of research and development for meeting the developmental needs. How much to invest? How to prioritize among the two verticals, science, technology and innovation? And how much of our investments, total investments will break the pie into science, technology, innovation space? How to motivate business to invest into R&D? How to balance between the risks and benefits of innovation? How to connect technology to the developmental agenda, and the priority of the nation and their own citizens? And of course, how to maximize the social and public good of R&D while partnering the private sector? Because today science and technology can deliver R&D products with public good, social good, strategic good and of course private good. And the private sector would like to invest where R&D priorities will deliver the private good at the end of their investment period. Therefore, how to balance them?

0:20:42: So in terms of general policy directions of the developing world I see that there are primarily five elements of the STI systems, increase the investments and emphasize on innovations, expand the R&D base, connect the science to developmental agenda, and of course the balancing act that they will have to do the inclusion and competitiveness. And if you look at the changing geography of research intensity of the 21st century, the 196 countries in the world could be grouped as high income, upper-middle income, low-middle income and low income group nations. There are 35 low income group countries and 55 low-middle income group countries. And if you look at the post-2000, essentially 21st century profiles, you can see that low income, middle income group and upper-middle income group countries are investing significantly such that the share of the high income country in the overall global investments is coming down. You look at that more figurative base, you can look at the trends, the red, is the high income group countries' share, dropped down by some 82% to something like a 62%. Because that's indicating to you that even the upper-middle income, low-middle income group countries see a need to invest into STI because they will lose their developmental opportunities.

0:22:14: And that's a good thing, good news that happens. And if you go back and look at the UNESCO's Global Science Report of 2015, there is some good news that at the time of Industrial Revolution the world became divided in some sense in terms of technology divides between developed and developing. On the other hand this trend could be interpreted as therefore that shrinking divides in the innovation space, but even the countries relatively smaller income based are investing into innovations and technology, and that's the kind of bold print message that is emerging from this process.

0:22:55: When you look at these investments, I think any STI policy framework will have to be based on evidence. So we need to build an evidence-based STI investments as a public policy, we look at the kind of increasing density of a full-time equivalence of R&D professionals to serve the national citizens of the country and also to gain in some sense unserved, underserved markets of the world. Because the people who are in the developing country framework share common with the unserved, underserved markets of the world and therefore how do we increase the density of scientists to meet them as well? And there are... Develop the appropriate output indicators to connect the R&D outputs of the developmental agenda. Because the developmental agenda is contextual. Whereas STI indicators which are global may not have the developmental context in which that is positioned.

0:23:53: We've published number of papers, published impact factors and so on, papers, patency [0:23:58] ____ stake. They do not necessarily connect to the developmental agenda of this context. Therefore, how do we connect them? There is of course the... I have told you, that it is globally... People use a global gross expenditure on R&D, GERD. I think you have to look at that as investment rather than an expenditure in the gross investment into R&D in the developing country framework. And then co-investments, how much the private sector, how much the public sector, will come into play, especially for those nations, which have a large public and social good yet unmet. Their unmet needs of the public and social goods have to be built into the developing countries' structure and then the question of delivery of various R&D goods that are present here.

0:24:44: When you talk about this balancing between the public policies for technology in developing economies, we must remember the profit motives of the private sector are natural and then there is this defense needs of nations. Again, very important commitments. Therefore, their profit motives and this national defense requirements are driving STI investments into various countries, both from the perspective of the governments and the perspective of the private sector for gaining market leadership, and of course the strategic positions. Therefore, the private goods and strategic goods of R&D are driven by the profit motives and the defense needs or various governments.

0:25:29: Then we hope that some of that goods will percolate, trickle down into social good activities as well, social good benefits as well. So how do we balance between the social and the private good of R&D is a very challenging process. Especially when you take a healthcare sector, we have to remember that there are people with low affordability and how do we build the STI framework where the healthcare as a business, as well as a healthcare as a service are balanced in the policy framework? And those are developmental economics [0:26:04] ____ fundamental.

0:26:06: When we talk about the policy paradigms there's always struggle between the leapfrog innovation and the incremental innovation. There are countries which, for example, small economies, which have to really rely on the global market, they have to necessarily invest into the leapfrog innovation such that they will be better than their... Or the oneupmanship becomes important, and therefore the process of innovation and then the protection of that intellectual property and the kind of benefits that you will get become important. Therefore they focus on competitive excellence and first mover advantages for research-related to IPRs.

0:26:42: There are also incremental and frugal innovations for public and social good. And incremental innovation does not mean it is weak. Coca-Cola is an excellent example of the world on incremental innovation over a period of time. Therefore, they will have to look at the alternative models, alternative grammars of increasing the size, and there can be collaborative excellence, and the social inclusion is priorities. Now, the... So when the social inclusion is a purpose of an innovation then we have to be careful that the process of innovation is as important as the purpose of innovation and vice versa.

0:27:18: And the dimensionality of challenge in developing countries as seen from the perspective of policy bodies, I have deliberately used the word 'in democracies'. Because in democracies the civil society is quite strong. So you have to build your policy framework in the context of the civil society's participation.

0:27:35: And I'd like to really highlight the balancing between the innovations for global competitiveness and national inclusiveness. Whereas a competitiveness, really, if you look at it in terms of this spread of the grammar of the competitiveness, it's a differentiating mindset. And there's a market advantage. It has to be inventor and investor-focused. And that we return [0:27:54] ____ on of investors, short lifespans, value maximization where speed in a competitiveness is a USP. And there's a first mover advantage that is critical, and small economies tend to excel in this process.

0:28:07: On the other hand for large populations like ours, we have to go back and look inclusiveness as an integral part of an STI framework, and there any inclusiveness integrating mindset, it is not about the market advantage, it's about availability to users. It is not about inventor focus, it is people-focused. It is not return to investors, it is return to society. And their short lifespans as we see [0:28:31] ____ replaced with long gestation times, and value maximization has to be balanced by input optimization. And here goodness is USP. And it is not a first mover advantage, it's the last mile connectivity which is important. And there is a [0:28:44] ____ relevant to large populations. Therefore the STI policy framework will have to integrate this competitiveness, inclusiveness agenda into the framework very cleverly.

0:28:54: So evidence gathering for public policy system is not trivial. I have been in this policy framework in India for a while. And I know the kind of challenges that exist, especially in collecting evidence for policies. Generally, the output to outcome relationships are not easy in an incentive framework. That is that you give the input today and outcomes, outputs happen later. And converting the output into outcome and then the social benefit is a larger time gap issue. There's a huge time gap between the investments and the returns the society will eventually realize. And how do you presuppose? When you develop the STI policy framework what sense of time you built, sense of immediate time, sense of intermediate time, and sense of infinite time. And how to you build the policy framework in those processes is non-trivial challenge in developmental economies.

0:29:47: And we talk about again the evidence gathering, most of the STI output indicators on global models do not necessarily fit into the developmental contextual framework. Therefore, how do you build inclusive innovation and technology outcomes, references context into the indicators? So the evidence gathering for STI policy in developmental economies need really close revisit. It's a very complex slide, I won't spend too much time here. This is to confuse my government at that time when I was in the government, [laughter] to tell that the R&D idea eventually comes as social outcome and there's a long gestation time, don't ask my scientists to produce the outcomes in short spans of time. Therefore I'm not [0:30:30] ____ having to confuse you at the moment, but I would like to only paraphrase, the outcomes sensing, is a non-trivial process, it's a time lag process. And there's a task of evidence-based policy building, therefore becomes to that extent difficult, because the global STI indicators, are really input-output based, and not developmental outcome linked. Very rarely, the STI output indicators that global models imply, are [0:31:00] ____ into the societal outcomes. It is all about what scientists do, what investors do, but not what will benefit in the process. And that, to the extent, I will leave it at that stage, because I have no desire to confuse you with that slide.

0:31:16: When you look at this in terms of the policy... Challenges and opportunities for the system, especially in contexts like the one I come from. But science, technology... Science research and innovation in my context is taking place in vertical spaces. And there is very little of integration in them. And that is further complicated by cultural factors of the country. There are pluralism, there is asymmetries between deployment and development. Therefore, given those challenges of asymmetries, cultural factors and pluralism, there is a big problem of integration. So how the policy that we develop in such environment, have to provide a basis, trigger a mindset changes in the science, research and innovation space to interconnect them. Where, they've taken vertical spaces, there is nothing to integrate them, and policy could provide that.

0:32:12: And also, if you're in a country like mine, where the creating wealth out of knowledge is a crime in my society. Therefore, it is counter to the innovation model. Saraswati and Lakshmi have to fight with each other. [chuckle] And given that context, how do you exceed a cultural change? And therefore, we have to talk about in international collaboration societies, where this cultural dilemma does not exists. Therefore, we talk about [0:32:41] ____ cultural changes in STI integration by collaboration itself, bringing a cultural value change. It's not easy, cultures change very slowly. Now, in a society like mine, where the civil society is very strong, the regulatory environment and managing regulations in democracies... I know US regulates it very well.

0:33:02: And it's a multi-layers stakeholder participation, there's a consensus building, and there is a promulgation of laws, new laws for regulation, and implementation structures. And there is always a balance between the man's way of doing and the nature's way of doing. Nature follows the evolutionary path, and man wants revolutionary changes, in short spans of time. And the governments in civil societies, where civil society is very strong, are handicapped. Where we have a weak government and strong civil societies, life is miserable. Therefore, the regulation paths are time-consuming in that system, and when you talk bout the high technology led paths for developing economies, I think how do you appraise the risk, how do we [0:33:47] ____ the cost and benefits, how do you have social... How do you balance between social inclusion, and the exclusion in access and availability, and balancing between the collaboration and competition is an issue.

0:34:01: And, good news is if you look at the present development processes, last few years, the developing countries in Asia are emerging as a major investor into R&D with a 20% share into the global investments into research and development, where Japan, China and South Korea adopt global resource-intensive model for R&D with manufacturing as focus for R&D. India adopts a resource-optimized path, and where our service economy is supporting the path for R&D, not the manufacturing process. The developing countries in South America are focusing on core strength of the [0:34:40] ____ core strength, in terms of agriculture as a main stake.

0:34:45: Now the question here is, is developed world also facing a sustainability challenge, is a question in terms of the STI models. I would like to make a case today that for strategic partnerships through policy perspectives among the STI system for developing and developed economies. And is that feasible, is that required? And if we go back and look at the global intensity of nations, they are measured in [0:35:13] ____ two forms. What's their gross expenditure on R&D as a percentage of GDP, and what's the number of full-time equivalent R&D professionals per million population? Now the global benchmarks are that you invest about 2% of your GDP and 1,200 R&D professionals per million population. Many developing countries, including India, do not match both norms on account of low resource setting.

0:35:43: Now, having said the low resource setting, I would like to present to you... This is a database of UNESCO database we got from World Bank data, and these are the top 10 nations with respect to overall investments. And the top 10 nation... And I don't consider European Union as a nation, it is a group. And this is the data which are more recent. And you'll see among the top 10 investors, there are six high income group countries, three upper-middle income group country, one lower-middle income group country, which is India. We are the sixth largest investor. You see the six largest investor, you go back and see as a percentage of the GDP is 0.85%, it is little more than 0.85 because I know the number little better than what I do... What this data will show, but I have to present the data as given to me. It is close to 1% but little less than 1%. But if you look at the expenditure per capita, it's a very small number. You may say, "Look, India is not investing enough," but go back and see this number of gross expenditure of R&D as a ratio or the full-time equivalent on this column, this is expressed in thousands of dollars per year, and the United States is $30,200. And there is this, let me say low-middle income group country or developing country which is percent investments, is $33,000, $2,000 less and purchase power parity terms.

0:37:18: Therefore, a country like India cannot afford to get 2% because our number per scientist is already large. And if we've to increase at 2%, I must double the number of scientists, as simple as that. And scientists do not come in tap water, but anyway we don't get tap water also. [chuckle] But this is a long-term process on how do you develop an economy. Therefore, this question of investments has to be seen in a slightly a different context. If you go back and look at the sustainability of the model, of resource intensity, granted because of the technology being very important, a lever in power equations of the world. Today if you look at the data, you will see that the manufacturing grew at 20% but R&D investment went by 30% on a global space. So people wanting to invest. And today because of wanting to be competitive, there's a competitive excellence and multiplicity of investments. Each nation is making investments on the same segment. And with increasing costs of this R&D inputs, create a high cost, they price themselves as unaffordable for more than 65% of population and sustainability of resource-intensive models, I think we need to examine more critically.

0:38:38: I have 40 nations in this and all Americas are shown in the blue, Asias are shown in the green and the European nations are shown in the brown. And the size of the bubble is a size of the total gross investments. And you'll recognize in this, I have separated them in four quadrants, those nations which invest less than 2% of GDP and less than 4,000 scientists per million population belong to this group of low resource setting. And those nations which invest less than 2% but more than 4,000 scientists per million population FTE intensive.

0:39:18: Those nations which invest more than 2%, much more than 2%, but less than 4,000 scientists are really resource intensive. This is lone country, Israel. Now there are nations here which is intensive both on resource and FTE. Now those countries which invest so much here would find it very difficult to produce R&D outputs that can be met and serviced by people in this group, lower resource setting because their affordability levels are out-priced. Now, if you take these overall 40 nation systems and take this 4,000 scientists per million population or $275,000 annual investment per FTE and then calculate for serving the global population of 7.5 billion, what will be the total investment of the world on purchase power parity terms, $8.25 trillion per year. Which is larger than the GDP size of several nations in the world but four. Therefore, we need to ask a question, can these 90 nations that belong to low income and low-middle income group country, can never afford these kinds of investments.

0:40:31: And technologies to serve these markets need to be matched to the price band envelope of these countries. And they have to have two conditions, one is the affordability of the technology, and the second is how the technologies can be implemented, capital to back the technologies also is important because... Therefore, there is an alternative policy framework that will be needed for developing countries with the developmental ambitions and resource constraints and low resource setting.

0:41:02: Now, I have done a SWOT analysis of the nations in four quadrants, and I will not go in to all the four quadrants and limit my attention to low resource setting and resource FTE intensive models. If you look at these in terms of strength the low resource setting gives you affordability and meeting the needs of poor. The threat, the weakness is a weak base and weak leadership, and opportunity for them is resource optimization, and threat the for them is development will bypass. If they don't invest the development will bypass them. Look at these FTE intensive model, their strength is value maximization, weakness is affordability for meeting the needs of poor. The opportunity is leadership and then threat, inability to serve the poor markets. The question here is can we connect the two? Can we really bring the two together, and countries with ability to value maximize and value maximize and resource optimize can become ideal allies in strategic alliances that you talk about. And countries with large domestic markets like ourselves, could barter market access for innovation access. Like for example, Israel, which has a small economic... Domestic size. So this will call from migration, from competitive excellence to a collaborative excellence as an alternative model.

0:42:22: On account of the non-sustainability of the current resource models, I think it maybe worthwhile to look at alternative design develop... Alternative models for developing affordable innovations for people-centric priorities of countries in the stage of development. I think we need to build affordability, we need to look at collaborative excellence and strategic alliances as an alternate path.

0:42:43: I'd like to present a case study, a case study of a policy perspective of developing country, where the only developing country I know well is my own, therefore I'll use mine. And a possible ally for alternate resource optimized model for serving the global good. And you look at this India's policy space evolutionary process, India is the first developing country which in 1958 articulated the principle, like a scientific policy resolution which has read out... There's a one-and-three-quarter page universal document, you cannot change a full stop or a comma from it. It's beautifully drafted by Homi Bhabha and Pandit Nehru. It laid the foundation for science and scientific temper. 25 years later, his own daughter realized that in the world of technology, if you don't build a self-reliance, you're out. Therefore, she went and proposed a technology policy statement in 1983 focused on technological self-reliance and reverse engineering.

0:43:39: Then we realized in 1980s, we were one of the top developing countries in science space. In 2003, we became nth player among the developing countries and we moved away. And so in 2003, first time, there's an ambition for sciences evolved, increasing the gross expenditure for R&D for increasing outputs was articulated. Since then, we increased the expenditure into R&D by 10 times. That's a number we've increased in the last 10 years. So in 2013, our science and technology innovation policy, where I had a handle, is an aspiration for nation where we talk about Science Research Innovation system, because they're taking part vertically, vertical spaces, integrate them, for a High Technology-led path for India and abbreviated as SRISHTI, and that, shrishti in Sanskrit means creation.

0:44:32: And India's share of total investments of the 90 low income group and low-middle group of countries, our share is 89% today. That's our total share. So many states in this group cannot afford to meet the global benchmarks of 2% gross expenditure and 1,200 million population. No nation in the world is able to get 2% unless they have 1,200 scientists per million population, India has a number of 160. Therefore, 160 to 1,200 is a long haul. India today is a sixth largest investor and [0:45:12] ____ emerged as one among the top six knowledge powers in science as per the stated science policy. In terms of publications, we've become the fifth in the world. We were 15th ranked, we are today fifth in the world. In terms of patent, we were 27th, we've become seventh in the world. India enjoys advantages of developed R&D institutional infrastructure like IITs, national laboratories and our virtuous low expertise costs. We respect our scientists but we don't pay them. [laughter] Therefore we keep them, not poor. The ratio of... We take the salary of a researcher, or a professor, as a number of times per capita GDP is 20.6 times. So 21 Indians are paying for one professor in India. So they deliver values.

0:46:05: This is a long story, I will not talk about this, we have a very strong civil society. At the time when we had this policy developed, we had to balance between a relatively weak government and strong civil society. Therefore, we adopted a bottom-up approach, where the bottom-up approach the [0:46:18] ____ participants civil society was done in 2013 policies, very long exercise, I will not go into the details. But that draft document was put on the web and public consultation was done and this drafting itself was done by a science communicator, so that will reach people out. And I told you, the single policy goal is through Science, Research and Innovation system for High-Technology path for India and it integrates the science processes and it's a way forward.

0:46:48: And at this point of time, I'd like to highlight to you that STI outputs generated low investments could reach many people. I'm going to show you a small video. This video is about somebody who has a Jaipur foot. It is a foot which costs $28 per foot. And in a comparative economy, it costs $20,000 per foot. And I'm going to show you the benefit that this $28 foot gives to this individual, who has lost his foot. And this video, we have downplayed the voice here because I'm gonna show one other video, the language of which I do not know, some of you might know, therefore I'm careful that I avoid the words. This is someone who has lost the foot and he has undergone the replacement with this orthotics.

0:47:51: Here is a person who says that he runs a kilometer in four minutes and 30 seconds. I don't think I can do that. [laughter] Even when I running away from my responsibilities. [laughter] And here's a man. And I like to also show you... This lady lost a leg in an accident. She's an actress and she was a dancer before. And it was really, let me say highly frustrating that a dancer lost a leg. And her willpower was sufficient enough that she fitted herself with the Jaipur foot and dances the way she does. And dancing is a lot more intricate process, Bharatanatyam is not easy, even with two legs. Maybe with a third leg you might. And this individual has demonstrated two things: The power of the frugal innovation, the power that it provides the quality of life of these two people. And this was created at this low cost.

0:49:15: And when we talk about these frugal innovations, it's not about the expenditure, it's about the value it brings to people. And we have something called National Innovation Foundation in India, supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and this foundation recorded in one year, 175,000 grassroot innovations, created at relatively no cost to the country. Therefore, there is a possibility to link these to the formal innovations. In summary, the changing geographies of STI landscape today have been mapped and I think I made a case that the non-sustainability of this high resource setting in 4,000 scientists per million population and 2% GDP components can become very difficult because it costs the world a lot.

0:50:05: Now policy dilemmas and the challenges of the developing economies, connecting it to the development processes was I hope articulated here. And I think a case has been made for strategic partnership among the developed and developing economies. And I think a case study of STI policy of India is presented in the framework for affordable innovations for serving the unserved, underserved markets of the world. There's a plenty. And I never use this word, 'bottom of the economic pyramid' because there's a economic model of the hierarchies we build in the economic scale, I use the word 'base of the economic pyramid', because no pyramid can stand on its vertex, it has to be on the base. And the larger number of people belong to that category.

0:50:51: So today, when I summarize it, STI policies of developing countries in my opinion, an individual perspective, I must say, the worldview of Ramasami is that it should make socioeconomic sense of investments and become a science policy for people, not the people policy for science. And we always talked about public policy. I think we have to look at a science policy for people. It should enable faster and sustainable inclusive growth of the nation, and I think open our space for strategic partnerships for among the developed world and global good for sustainable global growth by serving, also the needs of the unserved, underserved markets of the world. People say, world is flat. Could science policy serve to make it even? It is one thing to be flat, it's another thing to be even. And on this, I'd like to finish... Every lecture of mine I finish with Mahatma Gandhi. It says, "Economics that hurt the moral being of an individual of a nation are immoral and sinful." Therefore, I would like to talk about technologies for the pro-poor world. Thank you very much.


0:52:12: All right. We're gonna introduce ourselves very quickly and then start the question section. Thank you sir, for your presentation. I think I could speak for everybody that we really appreciate you coming and talk to us. My name is Jackson Voss. I'm a Master of Republic Policy student here at the Ford school and also in the Science and Technology Republic Policy program.

0:52:34: Hi, I am Rachel Wallace. I'm a fifth-year PhD candidate in chemistry and also in the STPP program here.

[background conversation]

0:52:45: All right. So I'll start with the first question. So we've got questions from the crowd here, and we're just gonna help set this up. The first question we have is that some may criticize this approach to science and technology focus by governments, especially in developing nations, and I guess the question is, "How would you respond to critics who say that countries like India and other developing economies should be focusing more on investments to cut hunger, malnutrition or poverty, rather than investing in science and technology?" And then one example they gave in particularly here is the India Mars Mission. The Mars Mission. So why should... Why are investments like that important when there are other problems that may seem more urgent?

0:53:36: You would like to answer every question? Or we can take a group of questions and answer them together?

0:53:41: I think we'll answer the questions one at a time.

0:53:42: One at a time? Okay. The question that's being asked about India, very easy for me to answer. Here is, "When there are poorer people in the country, why should we invest into Mars Mission and why do you look at those kinds of investments?", is the question that is in front. Fundamentally, I think we need to segregate these issues. If that Mars Mission had not taken place, will the poverty be alleviated in the process, is a question that you need to ask this question very frankly. That if you alleviate the poverty in the country as a whole, what would be the investment, scope of investments? And related to this what's the percentage investments we made in Mars? Let me tell you in terms of number, it is less than a percentage or even fraction of a percentage. Therefore the Mars Mission for the country did not cost even a fraction of a percentage related to what we require in addressing the alleviation of the poverty issues. Therefore it is not to be seen by just, by not going through we'll... It is not the [0:54:56] ____ one is the cost of other.

0:55:00: As far as science, technology innovation policy is concerned, I think we need to go back and if we address the poverty issue, we require science and technology innovation space. We can't escape that, because agriculture economy is very important. And when you talk about the poverty, the poverty is related to the income levels. It is not that we are not produce enough agriculture products, it is not that we don't produce products in the country. It is ability to procure, purchase, is an issue. And basically the science and technology innovation policy needs to address much larger issues in developmental countries... Developmental economics, than only the issues of science alone, that's why I talked about relating the process. And I believe,' truly believe that Mars Mission was not at the expense of our focus on addressing the questions of poverty and malnutrition.

0:56:03: Thank you. Is this on now? Okay, cool. Thank you. So I'm gonna ask the next question. India has a hot climate as you know, [chuckle] and its cities are growing very fast. And so like other cities they are suffering more from climate change than perhaps the countryside is. And so this is starting to make the cities more and more... Or less and less inhabitable. And so to what extent do efforts to address this intersect with STI policy and practice?

0:56:35: Okay. It's said India is a hot country. Tagore once said, that different centuries coexist in India at the same time. So India also has the coldest regions of the world. I would like to correct that sentence, "India is a hot country." India is a hot country, cold country, complex country. But the question that you are asking just now about urbanization. Urbanization is a threat for the world at large. And the question how does STI policy address that question? That's... I'll paraphrase it to only STI policy. If you have a technology which requires large capital, and access to capital, access to market, access to infrastracture are very determinant factors that'll promote urbanization. If you have technologies which are downsized to be able to be met in the small-sized economies of villages and rural towns, then you are talking about moving the development to small pla... People rather than moving people towards development.

0:57:50: So the STI policy of India talks about keeping the technology backing... Capital required to back technologies to be minimized, to be lowered, such that you move the people... You don't move the people to development, move the technology to people. So that's our approach. And then in the fourth Industrial Revolution that the world talks about today, you are able to use the digital framework to deliver technologies to even places which are farther away. And look at agriculture, agriculture is one sector which you cannot move to cities, because it requires land and water and those kind of stuff. Land is immobile asset. So agriculture economy has to be rooted still in rural places, therefore we want to use, through STI framework, reach technologies to farmers in villages, and that's a concept.

0:58:49: So our next question I think is relevant not just to India actually, but has to do with pharmaceutical IP law.

0:59:00: Oh yeah. Expecting it anyway.

0:59:00: Yeah. So we have a question that about whether India and other developing countries should resist the pressure to implement stronger enforcement of western IP law, international IP law, when it comes to serving the public good and pharmaceuticals in particular?

0:59:17: Okay. This is a politically sensitive question. [chuckle] And that too it is asked in the land where this will be hot contested. So I'll give a more diplomatic answer, if we may say so. And I'll make it generic, rather than a specific process. I use the word 'investor-inventor focused'. Okay? Now if you want to be competitive, we require investor-inventor focus, the IP laws of countries to invest significantly into warranty would be natural to say that their investments are returned and therefore the IP laws will be in the directions in which we will [1:00:02] ____ raise the bar. Now, when it concerns a human life, when it concerns a human health care, we need to ask question a little bit differently. Let us take this nation, openly, $18.5 trillion economy. What's the percentage of healthcare cost? 16%? Maybe up, up. So you are looking at... Take that 18% of 18, it gives you size of the healthcare cost, which is larger than the GDP sizes of at least 190 nations. Okay? So you need to ask this question internally. If the healthcare costs are to be so large, what percent of its contribution has come from this kind of a large investment-based activities?

1:01:00: Now, developing countries like ourselves, I'll talk about India primarily, chose a specific idea of any innovation that moves up, greening of patents, for example, should be focused on benefit to people rather than investor-inventor alone. Therefore, people-centric rather than investor-inventor-centric policy was required in India at the time in which it was imposed. The context will change with time. So in '70s when this was done by Mrs. Gandhi for India, India had a huge problem of all kinds of things. Now today, India has become one of the nations from which the healthcare cost is minimized. Not only for us, for the rest of the world as well. There is a video called 'Fire and Blood', and that Fire and Blood is about how many lives of Africans were saved because of the anti... That AIDS problem. Therefore, I think that developing economies will have to look at, not the geography, but the citizens' interest, people's interest. So I think that's not a moral issue, but there is a developmental issue. I think I'll probably stop at that level.


1:02:33: So this question comes to us from Twitter and it's pretty general and broad, but, "What are the highest impact actions that US science policy and/or other larger S&T communities could do to better serve developing countries and the global poor?"

1:02:48: Oh. [laughter] If I know the answer, I'd be a very wise man, which I'm not. [chuckle] I would go back and say, as a suggestion, that there are technologies for, let me say, market and trade. That's an issue that I will not for the moment open up. There are technologies for development, technologies for human welfare, and that is a slightly different segment. In those segments, I think countries like United States, which invest significantly into R&D today with a very high capital cost would find it hard to serve countries in Africa, countries in some other developing part of the world. And here is a wonderful, wonderful S&T system which is solving the problems of the rich. We have to solve the problems of poor as well, even in your own country sometimes. The question therefore is, can you look at a country with low resources like our own, which has infrastructure, which has people, but it doesn't have so much of people in resource because we are 160 per million population, we can never grow to 1,200 in few years.

1:04:18: The question here, can we partner? And that partnership model talks about ability to resource optimize and your strength of value maximization, and see whether that strategic alliance would provide technologies which are poor. So when talking about North-South-South Triangular collaboration, not North-South, where ultimately the products of this work should not save the boundaries of the two partners, but go to a third country, which cannot afford to invest at all into research. And that's an opportunity that I think India like country or US like nation should perhaps consider.

1:05:04: Kind of, I think related, but a little bit different. Here in the United States in particular a lot of our science and technology policy has been driven by military investment. I think this next question relating to that is, "To what extent is development of weapon technology a temptation to developing nations, and I guess what is your take on letting military development be the driving force in science and technology policy?"

1:05:35: This a very tricky question. [chuckle] And especially I had to go back to India. [laughter] Fundamentally, nations invest into defense out of a threat perception. Okay? Certainly the US in the present world cannot suffer from the threat perception as much as some of us in developing economies would have. Therefore, the logic of investment into the defense-related research is related to the threat perceptions of the respective governments. However, large percentage of the defense-driven research has a trickling-down effects on social good as well. And quite a lot of them. Therefore, one need not say that R&D is only given to this vertical of private... R&D good, private good and defensive good.

1:06:48: Fundamentally, the perceptions of STI policies of different countries of the global systems seem to vary sometimes even from the reality. It turns out that there was a study done on the STI policies of six economies in the world. And at that time, India was also one of the economies studied, and it was done by a very important country. And I know what that country's perception about the STI policy of India, were saying that our defense investments were large. That was because they look at this Defense Development Research, DRDO's salary budget, which is fairly large outfit, and therefore think our defense investments are large.

1:07:34: But as somebody who was part of the perspective, developing the STI at that point of time, I deferred with that particular, let me say, assessment, if I may use the word 'assessment'. But they are very clever that... The people who did this, they said my department was focused on rural technology. So they tried to silence me as well. Fundamentally, the defense reinvestments into R&D by different states are very strongly related to the defense threat perception. [1:08:16] ____ you can't avoid it. That's, I said here, private sector focuses on profit and national governments on the threat perception, okay, they call it 'strategy'.

1:08:29: So if I take my own country, our investments in the atomic energy research could be argued upon. But I'll also tell you the benefit of that investment. We are now, India, is one of the few countries in the world which has a fast breeder reactor working. And India is one of the few countries in the world worked on closing the nuclear fuel cycle very early, and we have a thorium-based reactor working. And if a thorium-based reactor actually goes into stream, we would have solved the energy problem for India for thousands of years, because we have enough thorium. Therefore, the [1:09:08] ____ spin-off also has been seen. I'll stop at that.

1:09:20: So we have a question here that is somewhat of a change of pace, but we think it's really interesting. [chuckle] How are current technologies particularly, this person was asking about bitcoins, how do those create challenges to technology policy development in India, specifically with consideration of jobs and anti-corruption?

1:09:40: Job and corruption, okay. They are two different subjects.

1:09:45: Yeah.

1:09:47: Okay? I hope job and corruption don't go as a unit. [laughter] It's not good for any nation in the world. And I will also give you a scientist's interpretation of corruption in an economic space. So I don't want moral perception but I think scientific perception. As job centers are concerned, let me tell you between the year 2000 and 2014, I have data. And this is not... See STI policy is a trigger, it is not a cause or a contributor to job creation, we must be careful. It's the dog which wags the tail, tail cannot wag the dog. And STI policy to me is a tail, it cannot wag the dog. Employment is a much bigger outfit.

1:10:44: But in 2000 and 2014, there was a period of nine years where the employment growth was higher than the population growth. And that is a result of several factors, not just science, technology innovation policy. STI policy that we have built has a specific element of three things. Job creation, and I mentioned to you before the knowledge triangle to connect wealth creation and job creation. And also parities, gender parities. Because we have a nation with nearly equal strength of two sexes, but in the economic processes, it is imbalanced. And therefore, we need to see that how do we get returns also investments made into women into a parity process. Therefore, the policy talks about three of them specifically in the process. And they talk about the corruption. And I certainly have not... Science, technology policy doesn't talk about the corruption because we are free of it.


1:11:54: But corruption today, in my opinion, this is personal opinion as I said before. Corruption is the result of three things. If the demand-supply gap is mismatched, is a ferment for corruption. If the access to supply is controlled by the access to power, is the next stage of corruption. If the delivery system of supply is very small compared to this group to be serviced, then the supply system, the delivery system gets a premium supply. So the rate of supply becomes an issue. Therefore what India has done, in spite of all the big claims about corruption in the media in India, let me tell you very frankly, the percentage of population which participate in corruption one way or the other, give or take, at my childhood time was 90%. Today it has reduced. The reason it has reduced is because the technology becomes a great tool in relieving the pressure on the delivery system. So when I was young, I could not board a train without paying some money, somewhere. I could not perhaps, perhaps get a ticket in the cinema theater for paying a premium. Today all that is... Digital technology delivered, therefore that has addressed. But the demand-supply gap is still a bridging problem.

1:13:26: Therefore the way to address this corruption, we should not look at it as a moral issue, we should look at corruption as an economic issue. If we look at corruption as an economic issue, increase the supply, the need for corruption is gone. Make the whole process of decision making transparent, access to power is gone. I will tell you, finish in one sentence, the enjoyment of power is [1:13:52] ____ abuse. Therefore we should not allow the enjoyment of power. Thank you.


1:14:02: We're almost done. [laughter] We got a couple more questions we're going to try to fit in really quick. So this one is the question about the Jaipur foot. Did I say that correctly?

1:14:14: Yeah, Jaipur, Jaipur.

1:14:16: Jaipur. Is not an outcome of India's STI policy, but what is the Government of India doing to encourage or amplify or invest in frugal innovations?

1:14:29: I have not claimed it is a part of India's innovation policy. I have not said that. Jaipur foot is not a... I think it is India's output, not Indian government's output. And let's be honest that countries develop by the effort of citizens, not by the... In spite of the government sometimes. Therefore Jaipur foot is the result of an individual innovation. I think the most frugal innovation takes place outside the government framework. That's true of any place in the world, not just India. The question that is asked, "What does Indian government do to support them?" So I'll paraphrase only to that element. I told you before that National Innovation Foundation is truly an autonomous body, not controlled by the government, but funded fully by the government. Very rarely you find a situation where the government gives money and is not controlled. National Innovation Foundation registered 175,000 grassroot innovations in one year, that's the number.

1:15:37: Now what we have done in National Innovation Foundation framework, helps this frugal innovators, that several of them belong to, audit them, mentors them, acquires certain, even patent rights for them, and they eventually [1:15:52] ____ enterprises to leverage them, and share the benefits to the grassroot innovator. And this is fully funded by the government. But we have another one, this is structured arrangement. We have something called 'Power of Ideas' which my former department used to do. I sometimes used to word 'my department', but I don't belong there anymore. This is problem of aging, I suppose, identity's problem. Now what happens is, we have Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, the Government of India, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Economic Times, we entered into a partnership. What we do, we give a call, open call, those of them who have ideas, who have innovations which need to be elaborated and supported, we give them a call. And Indian numbers are mind-boggling always, you keep the call open, 16,000 to 20,000 proposals will come. That's the number.

1:16:51: Then we have set up something like 800 experts, who will assess them and see which one is doable. And we shortlist them or process and when you come to 200, 300 innovations, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad provides these innovators a business plan for taking it to the next stage, and then invite the angel investors into this process. And they pitch presentations to these people, and this is helped by IIM, Ahmedabad, and the Economic Times, which is a newspaper, which gives a pro bono advertisement at a fairly low cost, no cost process. And the Government of India, through my former department provides a seed capital of Rs. 1.5 million, Rs. 2 million to really develop this into a product. And on the average, through this Power of Ideas scheme, we are able to convert this 200, 300 ideas which come out into 100, 150 startup companies in a period of time, and we also help them to acquire IPRs and protect them in the process. This is some of the activities of the Government of India. These are still a small drop in the ocean.

1:18:09: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Doctor. We appreciate your time. I invite everybody to join us at the reception. Let's give a big round of applause.


1:18:22: Thank you very much.