Leveraging Diaspora Expertise for Knowledge and Innovation Ecosystem

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Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated on 9 January every year to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Government, reconnect them with their roots and celebrate their achievements and contributions. PBD is celebrated on January 9 as it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa to lead India’s freedom struggle.

In 2015 the Government of India revised the format of PBD and re-energized its engagement with the Indian Diaspora to enable sustained and more substantive engagement. Following the review, the PBD Convention will be held once in two years in a city outside Delhi. In the intervening year, smaller, outcome-based PBD Conferences will be organized in New Delhi on issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora. It was decided that Indian Missions and Consulates will also celebrate PBD every year.

Through the first series of PBD Conferences which commenced in February 2016 the Government is proactively engaging with the Overseas Indians in an issue-based dialogue.

As a run up to PBD 2017, 10 PBD Conferences (panel discussions) have been held in 2016 on issues of importance to the Indian Diaspora. Domain experts from the Diaspora, and stakeholders and policy makers based in India have been invited for day-long deliberations on various topics. Their recommendations have been submitted to the Government of India for consideration. At the 14th PBD Convention in January 2017, each PBD Conference will present their recommendations, and the Action Taken Report to PBD delegates for their suggestions and comments.

The 14th PBD Convention January 2017:

PBD 2017 which will focus on the theme “Redefining engagement with the Indian Diaspora” will

  • Provide a platform for connecting with the Diaspora.
  • Address issues of concern to the Indian Diaspora and seek their insights and suggestions.
  • Deepen engagement with the young Diaspora and reconnect them with their roots.

Background for Plenary Session IV (ii)

This session on “Role of Diaspora in Transferring Knowledge and Encouraging Innovation” aims at developing a strategy to make India one of the top five global scientific powers and evolve a roadmap to strengthen the existing institutions through PPP and be in the forefront of knowledge and technology revolution with the diaspora playing a leading role to provide innovative solutions to challenges faced by the Indain economy.

Under the PBD 2016 Conference titled “Role of Diaspora in Transferring Knowledge and Encouraging Innovation (Science and Technology, Education, Start-up India)” organised on 30th July 2016 in New Delhi, 25 domain experts from the diaspora, stakeholders and policy makers discussed strategy for developing India’s technological prowess, harness diasporas collective energy and knowledge-base for India’s development.

Chairperson, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Hon’ble External Affairs Minister re-emphasised India’s aim to be one of the top 5 scientific powers globally. She called for a roadmap involving public private partnership, strengthening and expanding existing institutions of excellence and incentivizing research in India and the need to be in the forefront of the knowledge and technology revolution.

Some important recommendations made by the participants were:

  • To provide the right eco-system to nurture the talent and transform creativity into marketable innovation.
  • Encourage inter-disciplinary interaction by identifying priority areas for R&D and imbibing best practices from Taiwan, Korea and China
  • Improve teacher quality through accreditation and upskilling
  • Create a web portal for NRIs ready to offer internships for innovation
  • Establish innovation academies, encourage an innovation culture across different level through training and dedicated funding
  • Set up the National Innovation Institute with strong links to industry
  • Promoting Skill India and vocational education as a respectable option by imbibing  best practices from Finland  and other European countries
  • Build India’s brand globally as a knowledge and innovation centre by improving the global perception of IITs , IISc and etc through faculty , student exchanges and enhanced research funding with a key role played by diaspora
  • Simplify visa rules for participating in international conferences (Introduce scientists category visas)
  • Devise institutional mechanism to commercialize patents and to develop prototypes out of the total patents filed.
  • E-research on low carbon, clean energy mix for sustainable industrialisation
  • Facilitate the presence of diaspora on boards of Indian start-ups
  • Re-examine rules of 5 year + investments and tax implications
  • Create regional initiatives for diaspora including awards for contribution to innovation, technology and research
  • Strengthen GIAN – Global Initiative for Academic Network
  • Develop diaspora knowledge networks (similar to Turkish American Scholars and Scientists Association)
  • Worldwide mapping of diaspora strengths to build networks for India’s priority sectors

The recommendations of the PBD Conference were submitted for consideration and follow up.

The Plenary Session at the 14th PBD will focus on engaging Indian diaspora in innovation and enhancing human capital. It will address the high drop-out rates; development of meta-skills for innovation and building linkages between Innovation & start-up ecosystem.

The session will also discuss how to create avenues for crowd-funding, enabling innovation and start-up clusters across various metro cities and exploring opportunities for awards to Diaspora for contribution to innovation, technology and research.

The key areas of discussion would include the following:

  • Providing the right eco-system to nurture the talent and transform creativity into marketable innovation
  • Roadmap to be amongst the top 5 scientific powers globally
  • Fostering Industry-Academic Partnership in innovation and knowledge sharing
  • Role of Diaspora in strengthening and expanding existing institutions of excellence and incentivizing research in India
  • Diaspora on the boards of Indian start-ups and companies
  • Diaspora in information exchanges on technology dissemination and technology regulation