Today India stands tall in science and technology among the leading nations of the world. The contribution of science and technology policies in placing India among the top countries is immense. However, in the global innovation’s scenario, India is yet to make its impact clear and loud.

Addressing this theme, the DST Centre for Policy Research at the University of Hyderabad (DST-CPR-UoH) hosted a Symposium titled ‘Science, Technology, and Innovations in India: Towards Innovating Futures’ at the Zakir Hussain Lecture Hall Complex on Tuesday, 27th February 2024. Organized by Prof. Raghava Reddy, Co-PI of DST-CPR and Professor of the Department of Sociology, the symposium featured distinguished scholars from the field of STI studies, including Prof. Rishikesha T Krishnan (Director, IIT-B), Prof. E. Haribabu (SRM University), Prof. Krishna Ravi Srinivasa (RIS), and Dr. Ipsita Roy (Faculty, NIT-RKL). The event saw participation of distinguished scholars in the fields of science, technology, and innovation studies, alongside grassroots innovators from across India.

Rajni Sharma, Research Associate at DST CPR, extended the warm welcome, followed by Dr. Ram Prasad E.V.V Senior Scientist at DST- CPR, who provided a concise overview of the center’s activities. Prof. Raghava Reddy introduced the symposium, setting the stage for an enlightening discourse. The event adopted a hybrid format, accommodating both physical and virtual attendees.

Prof. Rishikesha T Krishan, Director of the Indian Institute of Management, delivered a compelling keynote address remotely, tracing India’s journey of technological innovation since independence. He delineated five pivotal points, including enhancing production efficiency, product refinement, and innovation in design. Krishnan underscored the crucial role of technological advancement in India’s economic growth, while also addressing challenges like affordability, leadership, and optimal technology utilization. Reflecting on the impact of COVID-19, he emphasized the imperative of indigenous solutions such as vaccine development. Comparing India’s R&D investments with neighboring countries like China, Krishnan underscored the government’s pivotal role in driving innovation. He highlighted recent innovations across sectors and stressed the necessity of fostering an innovation-friendly environment through strategic policies, industry collaboration, and academic support, prompting contemplation on India’s future trajectory in the global innovation landscape. The keynote address was followed by a Q&A session from the audience.

The first session commenced after a short break and delved into the prospects and challenges of Science, Technology, and Innovations (STIs) within formal institutions, featuring contributions from esteemed academics. Prof. E Haribabu, Retd. Professor of Sociology at the University of Hyderabad and Professor at SRM University (AP), chaired the discussion. Exploring academia’s role in India’s innovation ecosystem, Prof. Haribabu elucidated the concept of innovation and its historical evolution, advocating for greater R&D investments to nurture a robust innovation ecosystem.

Subsequent speakers offered diverse perspectives on innovating for the future. Prof. Krishna Ravi Srinivas from Research & Information Systems for Developing Countries, New Delhi, emphasized strategic planning in STI and the imperative of legislative support for innovation. Dr. Ipsita Roy from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, underscored the multifaceted nature of innovation and the significance of policy research for fostering inclusive grassroots innovation. Towards the end of the first session, Prof. Raghava Reddy provided an overview of his work under the DST- CPR project and the possible future outcomes.

The second session spotlighted grassroots innovations, featuring inspiring stories from innovators across India. Dr. Balaram Sahoo, Professor of Veterinary Sciences at the Odisha University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar, underscored the transformative potential of grassroots innovations originating from local communities, exemplifying their practical impact through real-world examples.

Brigadier (Retd.) P. Ganesham, Founder & President of Palle Srujana, emphasized the integration of grassroots innovators into mainstream society, highlighting their contributions to India’s growth and sustainable development.

The symposium also featured firsthand accounts from grassroots innovators like Mr. Leela Ram Sahoo, winner of the Presidential award for developing Niranjan Bhata, a long and sweet variety of Brinjal. He shared their experiences, enriching the discourse with tangible insights from the field. He also displayed the Niranjan Bhata variety for the audience to inspect.

Tushar Garg, Innovation Officer at the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), concluded the session by highlighting the pivotal role of grassroots innovation in driving social and economic progress in India and noted the importance of initiatives like the NIF in nurturing inclusive innovation ecosystems.

Arosmita Sahoo, a Ph.D. student at the Department of Sociology, provided a comprehensive summary of the day’s proceedings, followed by Prof. Raghava Reddy’s vote of thanks, acknowledging the contributions of all participants and organizers.

The event was coordinated by Mrs. Rajni Sharma, Dr. Ram Prasad E.V. V and Ms. L. Sai Sreshta from DST-UoH-Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and Dr. B.Sunil, Dr. Shringika Soni Mrs. Renuka from DST-UoH- Technology Enabling Centre (TEC) and Aurosmita, Resma, Harvey Newton, Ramesh from Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad.