Deepmala 3 – Making Economic Sense of Science

There is a new definition of wealth today. Wealth is no more measured in terms of fixed assets such as buildings, land, bank account, etc. It is measured in terms of those knowledge based systems, which add value. In today’s world, goods, services, data, people etc. cross the physical borders of different nations freely. However, adding value through knowledge gives nations a competitive advantage. Many countries realise the value of the intellectual prowess of its people. For instance, witness the interesting recent developments in Japan, where, by legislation, intellectual property has been considered as a security against loan.

Where does India stand in this context? Jack Welch, the Chief Executive Office of General Electric Company from USA was here some time ago. He said that India is a developing country but it was one of the most developed countries as far as its intellectual infrastructure was concerned. In that sense then, we should be a rich country, but we are not. Why is this so? It is because, among other things, the wealth creation potential of knowledge is something that we have not fully understood. We have still not learnt to build the bridge between discovery and market place. Ability to build this bridge is a pre-requisite for Indian scinece to make economic sense. If we do that, then we can set ourselves a heady dream of not only making India the intellectual capital of the world but also an economic power to reckon with.

People describe India in many different ways. Many say, India is a rich country where poor people live. That richness is due to our intellectual prowess, our biodiversity, our traditional knowledge base and, of course, our rich traditions.

The Indian challenge is simply that rather than being described as a rich country where poor people live, someday someone will have to describe us as a rich country where rich people live. This can happen, only when we realise the walth creation potential of knowledge.