New Delhi: Asserting that boosting economic growth while making it socially inclusive was a major challenge for policy makers, President Pranab Mukherjee has said Indian economy needed to generate 115 million non-farm jobs over the next decade to reap the 'demographic dividend'.
He said launch of the Start Up India programme by the government indicates country's commitment towards harnessing the brilliance and creativity of its young minds for the larger benefit of society and the nation.
Addressing a conference during 'Global Roundtable on Inclusive Innovations' held at Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday, he said the country needs a model that draws in 350-400 million people who currently reside outside mainstream society.
"The Indian economy today needs to generate 115 million non-farm jobs over the next decade to gainfully employ its workforce and reap its demographic dividend.
"Given this context, encouraging and promoting self-employment as a career option for young people will be of paramount importance," the President was quoted as having said in a press release issued today.
A culture of innovation and entrepreneurship needs to be institutionalised as part of our socio-economic eco-system. Innovation and entrepreneurship need to be inclusive and focus on a variety of enterprises, such as young technology firms, upcoming manufacturing businesses and rural innovator companies, he said.
Mukherjee said policy makers in India are confronted with the challenge of boosting economic growth while at the same time making it socially inclusive.
The President said that the country needed to focus on inclusive innovation projects that directly serve the welfare of lower-income and excluded groups.
"Inclusive innovations often modify existing technologies, products or services to better meet the needs of those groups. It will only be successful if the innovations reach a much larger segment of the poor and excluded population than it currently does," he said.
Mukherjee said entrepreneurs play an important role in the economic development of a country.
"India will have to encourage creation of new SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises) focused on manufacturing, while spurring grassroots innovation and growth. Putting entrepreneurship at the forefront of the economic agenda is, thus the need of the hour," the President said.
Over the years technology has become disruptive and innovation has played a major role in technological breakthroughs through product, service and process related innovations, Mukherjee said.
The President said many of the advanced nations have capitalised on their educational network to assume leadership positions in the area of innovation, start-ups and research.
India with an educational network of over 700 universities and 35,000 colleges is optimally placed to capitalise on its intellectual seed capital, he said.
Highlighting the issue of low levels of investment by Indian firms and businesses in Research and Development, the President said our current investment levels in R&D are a fraction of what world class companies spend.
"The major contributor of R&D expenditure is the government. Without a substantive stepping up of these expenditures, we cannot expect to be at the higher end of the value chain," Mukherjee said.
He called upon the private sector and institutes of higher learning to devote a larger part of their resources for R&D to enable innovation and job creation across the economy.