Time to show­case In­dia’s in­no­va­tion ecosys­tem in US

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Vol 14 Is­sue No. 193

Just how sig­nif­i­cant In­dia has be­come in the US is best ev­i­denced in the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the An­nual Mas­sachusets In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (MIT) In­dia Con­fer­ence, which be­gins on Fe­bru­ary 16.

This con­fer­ence, which will hold its ninth edi­tion this year, is one of the big­gest In­dia-fo­cused con­fer­ences in the US and will be held at the MIT Me­dia Lab in Cam­bridge, Mas­sachusets.

Tra­di­tion­ally, it is or­gan­ised by stu­dents from across var­i­ous schools at MIT.

This con­fer­ence has es­tab­lished it­self as an im­por­tant fo­rum for lead­ers in the in­dus­try, academia and pol­icy to dis­cuss cur­rent is­sues and fu­ture in­no­va­tions in the con­text of In­dia, South Asia and the world.

Given the im­por­tance of in­no­va­tion, par­tic­u­larly its em­pha­sis on star­tups,

Kri­tarth Yud­hish the sig­nif­i­cance of such a con­fer­ence can scarcely be un­der­rated.

The theme for the 2019 con­fer­ence is suit­ably ti­tled ‘In­dia’s Com­pet­i­tive Edge’. This year, the con­fer­ence will fo­cus on cel­e­brat­ing in­di­vid­u­als and or­gan­i­sa­tions who have pro­vided the cut­ting edge in their re­spec­tive ar­eas of ex­cel­lence.

While In­dia has been able to es­tab­lish it­self as the world’s fastest grow­ing econ­omy in the past cou­ple of years, it will need to con­tinue mak­ing progress with the help of busi­ness, tech­nol­ogy and so­cial lead­ers, to main­tain this edge.

The con­fer­ence is aimed at pro­mot­ing MIT and broader com­mu­ni­ties’ en­gage­ment and in­ter­ac­tions with In­dia’s lead­ers from var­i­ous dis­ci­plines. These in­clude sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, sports, en­trepreneur­ship, eco­nom­ics, so­cial jus­tice, pol­i­tics and even spir­i­tu­al­ity.

More im­por­tantly, it leads to fruit­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween lead­ers and the MIT to ad­dress real prob­lems in In­dia.

Some­times, plat­forms such as these, for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, end up pro­mot­ing agen­das that show­case the coun­try in a neg­a­tive light, whose out­comes do not lead to pos­i­tive en­gage­ments at a later date.

Hence, the goal this year is to lever­age the plat­form to high­light nu­mer­ous pos­i­tives that In­dia has to of­fer, through its lead­ers across var­i­ous dis­ci­plines, and through high-im­pact Mit­based ini­tia­tives.

Look­ing to go be­yond merely pol­icy and tech­nol­ogy, the con­fer­ence would host speak­ers who have man­aged to make a dif­fer­ence. Scrap­ping of a colo­nial law, Sec­tion 377, was one such mo­ment for the coun­try which needs to be high­lighted. For in­stance, Arund­hati Katju, the lawyer who stood for LGBTQ rights and led the fight for scrap­ping Ar­ti­cle 377, will be putting forth her views at the con­fer­ence.

Ad­di­tion­ally, there will be me­dia per­spec­tives that in­clude ac­count­abil­ity vs free­dom and the press as a medium be­tween the masses and the news­mak­ers.

It is very im­por­tant for the con­fer­ence to in­clude such voices, high­light­ing the progress that we have been mak­ing as a so­ci­ety, be­yond tech­nol­ogy and busi­nesses.

Like ev­ery pre­vi­ous edi­tion, this year too we are hop­ing that this net­work­ing and in­ter­ac­tion will lead to en­gage­ments be­tween var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions and the MIT.

The lineup of those who will speak are var­ied and eclec­tic. From the world of pol­i­tics to busi­ness, sports per­sons, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from fi­nance, movie per­son­al­i­ties and astron­omy, all would be par­tic­i­pat­ing.

Fire­brand politi­cian Subra­ma­nian Swamy and cricket le­gend Sourav Gan­guly will at­tend. As will rep­re­sen­ta­tives of global phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firm Dr. Reddy’s. Giv­ing them com­pany will be del­e­gates of In­dia’s cor­po­rate creme da la creme: Unilever, Reliance Jio, Kir­loskar Sys­tems, Mi­crosoft re­search and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Yale Astron­omy.

The fa­mous Jaipur Foot will be rep­re­sented along with IIM(A) and a clutch of noted NGOS. Any dis­cus­sion on In­dia will be in­com­plete with­out Bol­ly­wood, which will be am­ply rep­re­sented in well known film per­son­al­i­ties like Anu­pam Kher and Farhan Akhtar.

In what is ex­pected to be a won­der­fully in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion, the con­fer­ence will show­case tech­nol­ogy lead­ers from MIT, high­light­ing the im­pact that they have made through their col­lab­o­ra­tion with In­dia.

Next year, the MIT In­dia Con­fer­ence as­pires to go one step fur­ther and spot­light the thriv­ing startup ecosys­tem that has come up sig­nif­i­cantly in the past five years. We hope that the lead­er­ship team for the next year’s con­fer­ence would of­fer bud­ding en­trepreneurs in In­dia a plat­form to show­case their un­de­ni­able talents, lead­ing to fur­ther col­lab­o­ra­tion with MIT and in­vestors.

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