A webinar on: Post COVID 19: Resurgence of Indian Industries and R&D
The pandemic in the form of Covid-19 has shaken the entire world and is believed to re-shape the economy, industrial strategies in a post-Covid situation. SRM AP conducted a webinar with eminent personalities to discuss the Post-Covid 19: Resurgence of Indian Industries and R&D. The panelists were Dr. V K Saraswat, Hon’ble member, NITI AAYOG, Chairman, Prof. D Narayana Rao, Pro VC, SRM AP, moderator and convener, Dr. G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman, DRDO, Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwalaa, Institute Professor, IIT Madras, Dr. K Varaprasad Reddy, Chairman Emeritus, Shanta Biotechnics, Ltd, Prof. Prasant Mohapatra, VC Research, UC Davis, USA, Prof. Damodar Acharya, Ex- Director, IIT Kharagpur, Prof. V.S. Rao, President, NIIT University, Prof. B.S. Murty, Director, IIT Hyderabad, DR. Akhilesh Gupta, Adviser/Scientist-G, DST, Prof. Rakesh K Khandal, President R&D and Business Development, India Glycols LTD.
While welcoming the panelists and the participants of the webinar, Prof. D Narayana Rao, Pro Vice Chancellor, SRM University, AP, moderator and convener, says, “COVID 19 has disrupted the world and the world is struggling against the Virus. At the same time, COVID 19 is giving an unenvisaged opportunity in building a new India. It is inevitable that the world will shift from China to India for imports. India emerges as an alternative source to countries like the US, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan. More than 300 MNCs will export via India instead of China. India needs to utilize this opportunity by building taskforce, infrastructure, and dedicated industrial fast track clearances. Further He said that India should develop the future Workforce for the World.”
Dr. V K Saraswat, Hon’ble member, NITI AAYOG, Chairman has talked about the capability of our scientific community in mitigating the crisis through epidemiological studies, stimulation and gene concepts. He further says, “The commitment of scientific community, institutions, DST, ICMR, DRDO, IITs, and pharmaceutical industries have been incredible in the battle against this raging pandemic.”
However, according to Dr. V K Saraswat, India exhibited delays in setting up of test centers, and supply chain problems require revamping and correction. He suggests, “Bringing down the interest rate, funding to industry R&D consortia, setting up R&D centers/labs, development of robotics embedded with IoT, tax breaks to Indian companies outside India, and upgrading testing labs is crucial. India centric epidemic preparedness, vibrant electronic device manufacturing ecosystem, medical devices, E-commerce, genetically modified crops, cybersecurity should also be implemented and improved to thrive in a post Covid-19 situation. “
He informs that Apron and textiles, automobile sector, Tourism and aviation, building construction, food and agriculture, finance, education, retail, and MSMEs alone with 30% of GDP contribution and providing employment to 140 million employees, will be most affected. “Understanding sector-wise business imperative and developing appropriate policy support to unconventional strategies will be the pivotal point for the revival of Indian economy.”, says Dr. V K Saraswat.
Dr. G Satheesh Reddy applauded the response of the country to fight against Covid-19. He says, “PPE, Masks, and Ventilator production has increased exponentially. Various industries are coming forward to submit designs for ventilators which were minimally used till the outbreak of coronavirus. The onus is to produce 60k ventilators in the coming days.” He further suggests, “We should have collaborations with industries abroad, acquire technical know-how, and become self-reliant eventually “.
Prof. Prasant Mohapatra says, “Higher education needs to focus more on innovation and creativity. Whereas South Korea invests 5%of GDP on R&D, India only invests 0.85%, exhibiting a huge opportunity for investment on R&D. Indians have high intellectual capital and focusing on high-quality education system will improve the R&D results of the country”. Dr. Akhilesh Gupta spoke of the extramural R&D. He says, “India needs to quadruple present full-time researchers to increase R&D spending to 2%”.
Dr. K Varaprasad Reddy believes that MNC’s should be compelled to share the research knowledge inferred in our land. Also, he instructs, “We need to reorient ourselves to combat against plausible bio attacks in the future”. Prof. B.S. Murty identifies that Internet and network connectivity with good speed and bandwidth should be provided to everyone at affordable price, as education is likely to get digitized in the future and the world has recognized its benefits during the outbreak of COVID 19. Meanwhile, Rakesh Khandal says, “Technology status appraisal should be prepared to identify the capabilities we have today in India. Also, funding to universities on R&D should be based on real content.” He further claims, “Traditional health systems like Ayurveda should be used to improve immunity and combat COVID”.
Dr. V K Saraswat concluded by saying, “India should be competitive in terms of quality, quantity, and cost effective by standardizing the products and settling for larger value addition.” The webinar highlighted the reversal of brain drain during this pandemic as intellectuals and workers have moved back to their hometown. Further, Young entrepreneurs who have mastered modern tools and are more connected to the world should be working with the academy and industry as they come up with solutions and develop technology rapidly. At the same time, it is vital to identify that we might need to live with Covid-19 for a long time, which requires self-sanitized logistics and public transport, robotics in hospitals, developing social distancing equipment, and drugs to improve immunity.