A while ago, I was asking myself Where are the killer applications on the web for India?
Today, when I read ReadWriteWeb's article on The State of Innovation in India, a thought struck me about the relationship between innovation and universities. Everyone knows the story of about how many companies like Yahoo!, Google, Sun Microsystems all started at Stanford University, how FreeBSD came out of Berkeley University, and so on. I hope you also know how the great Nalanda University in the 5th century was a hotbed of advancements (more on that in another story).
Is it that a strong ideas culture is instilled only in a good university environment and the ecosystem around it which includes startups and businesses? Perhaps this explains why there is such amazing stuff being incubated at the TeNeT, IITM.
It reminded of an article by Prabhakar Raghavan, Head of Yahoo! Research where he says:
India's real infrastructure problem--with no solution in sight--is not airports or electricity; it is the virtual nonexistence of graduate education and research in information and other crucial technologies. Consider this for starters: The U.S. produces about 1,400 Ph.D.s in computer science annually and China about 3,000. By stark comparison, India's annual computer science Ph.D. production languishes at roughly 40. That number is about the same as that for Israel, a nation with roughly 5% of India's population size.
Now you may ask why is this important? That is best explained by C.N.R. Rao, Science Advisor to India's Prime Minister speaking about why money is spent on moon rockets when there is poverty to address:
You cannot be industrially and economically advanced unless you are technologically advanced, and you cannot be technologically advanced unless you are scientifically advanced.