UPSC Exam Preparation-Gist of Yojana January 2019 Issue: Innovation

UPSC Exam Preparation: Gist of Yojana January 2019 Issue: Innovation

Table of Contents: Innovation

1. Innovation: Making a Difference

2. Scientific Innovations in the Service of Society

3. Capitalizing on Technology for Farmers’ Welfare

4. Space Programmes: Spin-offs for Humanity

5. Contributing to a Knowledge-Based Revolution

6. Innovation-Oriented Initiatives in Higher Education

7. Improving Governance in Public Systems

8. Transforming Public Transport in India

9. Improving Competitiveness in SMEs

10. Adding more meaning to Money

Chapter 1- Innovation: Making a Difference

Innovation has been at the heart of all progress of mankind – be it the discovery of fire, the wheel, weapons for hunting, the idea of agriculture – each one developed from an idea or observation. In recent times also, innovations have taken place in almost every sphere touching mankind. Agriculture, space science, bio-technology, health care, education etc. – every sector has benefitted by innovation.

Obviously, the lead in innovations has been taken in the field of science and technology. Innovations in health, like discovery of DNA profiling, stem cell research, organ donations, heart transplants etc. have actually been lifesaving.

  • The Green Revolution was an innovation that helped convert India into a food sufficient nation from a food scarce nation which had to depend on supplies from abroad to feed its hungry population during the initial years after gaining independence.
  • Other innovations in agriculture over the years have promoted farmers’ welfare and ensured increased productivity.
  • Space science is another area which has seen a number of innovations. Innovations in satellites and launch vehicles have further boosted India’s efforts to earn its rightful place in the comity of nations. These innovations have secured benefits in various fields such as telecommunications and rural connectivity.
  • The Ministry of HRD’s initiatives like MHRD Innovation Cell (MIC), Atal Ranking of Institutions of Innovation Achievements (ARIIA), GIAN and SPARC are all aimed at promoting innovation in young minds.
  • Programmes like MUDRA and ASPIRE have tried to create a spirit of entrepreneurship through innovative idea among entrepreneurs inclusion initiatives like Jan Dhan Yojana and Various innovative pension schemes are aimed at benefitting the common man.
  • Specific innovative programmes like the Atal Innovation Mission and innovations in public systems like the BHIM App, e-Nam etc have also contributed to the innovative spirit in India.
  • The Metro Rail is one of the most innovative modern transport systems and has made a huge difference to the public transport system.

Chapter 2- Scientific Innovations in the Service of Society

Technology forms the subtext of human development. History is loaded with instances of technology serving as catalyst in the grand narrative of human development. From basic necessities like food, air, water, clothing and shelter, to structural requirements like security technology has played a tremendous role in every field of human growth and survival.

Invention of the transistor:

  • Around the year 1948 the invention of the transistor, a device with potential to have numerous applications in radio technology by replacing the vacuum tube, took place.
  • The transistor is a resister or semi-conductor device which helps amplify electoral signals as they get transferred through it.
  • The presence of the transistor enables all kinds of binary logic operations and has brought a revolution to the field of electronics and computing.

Historical Perspective:

  • Manifestations of various technological developments have resulted in various industrial revolutions since 17th/18th century onwards.
  • However, during the last few decades, one country that has shown remarkable progress towards industrialization is China. Countries like Israel and India are known to have made some contributions too, with Israel playing a major role in the realm of technology development.
  • The main features of these industrial revolutions are as follows:
  • The First Industrial Revolution: 1760 – 1840. It was a period which witnessed the emergence of stream engine, textile industry and mechanical engineering.
  • The Second Industrial Revolution: 1870- 1914. The revolution was about emergence of railways and steel industry.
  • The Third Industrial Revolution: 1969 – 2000. Electric engine, heavy chemicals, automobiles and consumer durables made their presence felt during this period.

This is an ongoing phase of this industrial revolution which has also been called as Industry 4.0. Developments in the oil industry and the IT industry have led the initial phase of Industry 4.0. At the same time, there are various other S&T innovations which are leading the progression of this Industrial Revolution.

Innovations in the field of Medicine:

  • Invention of Penicillin during 1928 by the Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming could be considered as the beginning of the modern era of medicine. It transformed the field of medicine by its ability to cure infectious bacterial diseases.
  • The discovery of DNA has totally revolutionized field of biology and demonstrated that this discovery would help humans to resolve various challenges beyond medicine. DNA profiling helps the law enforcement agencies towards solving crimes.
  • Apart from these important discoveries, the research on the stem cell is also an important innovation. Such cells have the unique ability to develop into specialized cell types in the body which could be used to replace cells and tissues that have been damaged or lost due to disease.
  • In addition, various innovations in the organ donation field which assist to replace (repair) eyes, lung, heart, kidney, liver, pancreas or intestine have helped human race immensely.

Innovations in the Power Sector:

  • In the power sector, from nuclear power to solar power to space based solar power to biofuels, various clean options have been made available.
  • Another interesting technology/method for energy generation is by using nuclear fusion reactors.
  • Presently, much work is happening in the arena of development of nuclear fusion reactors. In southern France, International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is getting developed. This technology, when fully operationalized, is expected to change the global energy habits.
  • A major innovation could happen when the current nuclear fusion reactors where the hydrogen isotopes tritium and deuterium are used as the fuel would be replaced by other technology.
  • If helium-3 and deuterium could be used as fuels, then a major revolution in the energy sector is expected.
  • The helium-3 is not available on the earth’s surface, hence at present few states are undertaking missions to Moon where helium-3 is available in abundance.


Innovation in Modern Technology:

  • For many years one of the best approaches to industrial production was considered as CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine.
  • Today, with the developments taking place in the additive manufacturing (AM) sector it is expected that a major change is at the doorstep of global manufacturing processes.
  • This technology which is commonly known as 3D printing is a mechanism of direct digital manufacturing. This would allow object creation by simply using a digital file which is having the design of the product.


Internet of Things:

  • At the heart of various technological innovations over the years, lies the Internet. This is the single most technology which has helped to change the face of the world within a few years.
  • Internet 2.0 is expected to bring in major changes in the present-day setup of doing various things.
  • Development in multiple fields of science and engineering like nanoscience, electronics, and sensor technologies are offering new opportunities to relate with internet differently.
  • The idea of using internet differently and by using diverse effects (normally “thing” or “objects” are viewed as any possible items in the real world that could join the communication chain) is expected to upswing to the model of Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Generally, IoT is considered to be simply a means of connecting different sensors to a network. Ambient Intelligence and Cognitive Technologies are anticipated to have a major impact on the future of IT. Technologies like Fog computing, Distributed computing, Cloud computing, Big Data and Block-chain are expected to impact the future of IoT.


Artificial Intelligence:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another technology which has been there for many years and is presently found making a lot of impact on the development cycle in various disciplines.
  • Issues of ethics do get raised in regard to the applicability of AI.
  • However, even today, AI is still an evolving technology and the scope for AI is varied.
  • Broadly, it could be argued that AI and Internet 2.0 could decide on the future of the world.


Innovations in Space Technology:

  • Developments in the field of Outer Space have been fascinating.
  • This is one technological field, which could be said to have made major contribution towards addressing various issues of socio-economic importance.
  • Voice and data communication in real time and offering accurate inputs for various development aspects and managerial issues has been the key focus of space technologies.
  • Today communication, navigational remote sensing (earth observational), weather and scientific satellites actually almost fully control humans lives.

Chapter 3- Capitalizing on Technology for Farmers’ Welfare

Farming is both a way of life and means to livelihood for nearly 60 per cent of our population, a majority of whom are women and youth. The basic difficulties of farmers can be overcome only if integrated attention is given to pricing, procurement and public distribution. Technology can play a major role in transforming agriculture and meeting the government’s vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2020.

Major issue areas:

Compounding the difficulties of today, farmers are facing serious problems from climate change. The support extended to farmers should be according to the requirements of those cultivating in arid zone sem-arid dry farming, irrigated areas, groundwater farming and plantation crops in hilly areas.

Progress in agriculture with the use of technology:

  • The progress made by our farmers in improving production and productivity is illustrated by the fact that wheat production in India has gone up from 7 million tonnes in 1947 to over 100 million tonnes in 2018. Such an impressive progress has been rendered possible due to interaction between technology and public policy.
  • Many innovations have taken place in the effective use of genetic knowledge for improving productivity and profitability of crops induced mutation, chromosome doubling through colchicine and genetic medication through the application of the new knowledge in molecular biology.
  • Breeding has helped in developing strains with a higher yield potential before taking the new technology to the field. Nevertheless, it is important that they are assessed for their positive as well as potentially negative effects.
  • Genetic engineering technology has opened up new avenues of molecular breeding. However, their potential undesirable impacts will have to be kept in view. What is important is not to condemn or praise any technology, but choose the one which can take us to the desired goal sustainably, safely and economically.

Goals by the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) for ensuring sustainable agriculture and food security:

  • To improve the economic viability of farming by ensuring that farmers earn a “minimum net income”.
  • To mainstream the human and gender dimension in all farm policies and programmes and give explicit attention to sustainable rural livelihoods.
  • To complete the unfinished agenda in land reforms and to initiate comprehensive asset and aquarian reforms
  • To develop and introduce a social security system and support services for farmers.
  • To protect and improve the land, water, biodiversity and climate resources essential for sustained advances in the productivity, profitability and stability of major farming systems by creating an economic stake in conservation.
  • To foster community-centered food, water and energy security systems in rural India and to ensure nutrition security at the level of every child, woman and man.
  • To introduce measures which can help to attract and retain youth in farming by making it both intellectually stimulating and economically rewarding.
  • To strengthen the biosecurity of crops, farm animals, fish and forest trees for safeguarding both the work and income security of farmer families, and the health and trade security of the nation.
  • To restructure agricultural curriculum and pedagogic methodologies for enabling every farm and home science graduate to become an entrepreneur and to make agricultural education gender sensitive.
  • To make India global outsourcing hub in the production and supply of inputs needed for sustainable agriculture, and products and processes developed through biotechnology and information and Communication Technology.

Significant decisions taken to improve the status and income of the farmers:

  • Designated the Ministry of Agriculture as Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare to stress the importance of keeping farmers’ welfare as the measure of agricultural progress.
  • Issue of Soil Health Cards to all farmers.
  • Allocation of both budgetary and non-budgetary resources for promoting micro-irrigation through the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY).
  • Conservation and sustainable use of indigenous breeds of cattle through Rashtreeya Gokul Mission.
  • Promoting online trade through electronic national agriculture market which helps to bring together different agricultural markets.
  • Introduction of agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Act, 2017 and Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming Services Act, 2018 supported by electronic Negotiable Warehouse Receipt (eNWR) system for increased institutional credit to the farm sector.
  • Determination of Minimum Support Price (MSP) based on the recommendations of National Commission on Farmers (NCF).
  • Integration of protein rich pulse and nutrient rich millets into welfare programs including Public Distribution System (PDS), mid-day meals, ICDS etc.

Anticipatory Research in the era of Climate Change:

  • There are several reports in the media about the bioshield function of mangrove forests along coastal areas. Mangroves have helped to save both lives and livelihoods particularly of fisher and coastal communities. The beneficial impact of mangroves has been observed by the local community on several occasions including the recent Gaja in Tamil Nadu. Earlier the damage caused by the Tsunami and the super cyclone in Odisha were also considerably less in mangrove rich areas.
  • It is in recognition of the critical role of mangroves in the conservation of coastal ecosystems that the famous temple at Chidambaram chose a mangrove plant as a Temple Tree.
  • In India, the general appreciation of the role mangroves play in both ecological and livelihood security has been little.
  • A Charter for Mangroves was prepared and with the help of the Government of Japan and IITO an International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME) was formed in 1990.

New technologies are the basic raw material for productivity improvement. There are adequate opportunities for anticipatory research involving new technologies. We should capitalize on them to ensure the well-being of farmers and farming.

Chapter 4- Space Programmes: Spin-offs for Humanity

Though the Indian space program started nearly 20 years later than in developed countries, today it has emerged as one among six nations i.e. USA, Russia, Europa, China and Japan having total indigenous capability in building satellites for earth observation communication and scientific research as well as launch them into orbits around Earth and even taken them to Moon or Mars. Indian launch vehicles like PSLV, GSLV have proven track record and cost-effectiveness such that even developed countries are approaching ISRO for launching their satellites.

What should be the focus for future space programmes?

  • Important developments related to the human space flight are the Crew module, life support system, Crew escape system and improvement in the overall reliability of the launch vehicle.
  • Once in orbit, the capsule will be in almost zero G condition and hard vacuum and will be subjected to heavy radiation.
  • Creating living conditions inside the module, to support human life, providing oxygen, water and food as well as water and food as well as waste disposal for several days needs developments of innovative technologies.
  • Training of astronauts to face zero Gas as well as high acceleration levels during launch and re-entry needs through understanding of behavior of human physiology and psychology as well as conditioning the astronauts by going through a series of simulated environmental tests.
  • A branch medicine i.e. space medicine will emerge. Such facilities are not available in the country and need to be established through fresh development programmes.
  • Satellite images and for continuous monitoring of sensitive regions high resolution imaging from geo stationary platform will have to be developed. Innovative solutions are to be found to combine optical and micro wave images from such platform from 36000 km is required.
  1. Reliable Vehicles:

The PSLV and GSLV have emerged as reliable satellite launch vehicles globally. That is the reason that other countries including USA, Europe and Canada are approaching ISRO for launching their satellites.

  • Demonstrated reliability of these launchers are around 95 per cent but not adequate to carry the manned capsule.
  • Space Shuttle had estimated reliability level of 99 per cent, still NASA took the risk of sending astronauts in that. It is sad that they encountered two failures out of its 136 launches.
  • At present the only launcher available for the free world for human space flight is Russian Soyuz rocket.


  • Though the GSLV MKIII recently developed by ISRO can take the manned capsule weighing nearly 10 tones to low earth orbit, improvement of reliability of the launch system is a must before it carries human on board.
  • The entire design and test results will have to be revisited.
  • Providing oxygen and maintaining the temperature within reasonable limits, shielding the external radiation of charged particles and providing waste management onboard are other new developments


  1. Recovery System:

While all attempts will be made to have a reliable launch system there is a remote chance there could be some chance of failure. In such a case how to bring back the astronaut has to be addressed.

  • Recently, ISRO has demonstrated a crew recovery experiment using which astronauts will be ejected from the launch system and brought back to earth in case of the mission abort.
  • Developing space transportation system and enabling humans to stay in earth orbit for few days and bringing them back is only a small step forward, it will provide a platform for detailed observation of planet earth, scientific observation and studies of stars and galaxies.
  • Conducting chemical or biological experiments under zero G condition to generate new molecules are some of the benefits.

Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite:

The recently launched hyper spectral imaging satellite is going to be a powerful tool for monitoring natural resources and supporting agriculture in a big way. Warnings on cyclone drought weather phenomena can be met using precision multi spectral images from geo stationary satellites. But there is no proven technique for advanced warning of earthquakes.

  1. Digital Connectivity:

Today’s knowledge society is totally dependent on digital connectivity. Geo stationary satellites always provided solutions for this.

  • The recent launch of GSAT11 is a clear example of how space is supporting the needs of the country in this area of high speed digital connectivity.
  • Such resources will have to be multiplied.
  • Through this, digital connectivity is assured not only to remote rural areas but also the doorstep of the poor.
  • While access to knowledge is extended so are the services like health care through telemedicine.

Way forward:

Today, space based service are efficient but expensive. The cost of launching satellites contributes a major share in this. If schemes are developed to recover and reuse the launch hardware considerable saving in cost can be achieved. Also, use of new propulsion systems using less expensive fuel like kerosene could bring down costs.


Online Portal Facilitate DBT Launched:

  • An online portal “ENSURE” National Livestock Mission-EDEG developed by NABARD and operated under the Department of ‘Animal Husbandry, Dairying, & Fisheries was launched recently.
  • The National Livestock Mission has been conceived by the government for the sustainable development of the livestock sector.
  • Under the Mission’s component called Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation (EDEG), subsidy payment for activities related to poultry, small ruminants, pigs etc. through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) goes directly to the beneficiary’s account.
  • In order to make it better, simpler and transparent, the NABARD has developed an online portal “ENSURE” so that the information related to beneficiary and processing of application can be made readily available.

India’s Heaviest Communication Satellite GSAT-11 Launched:

Indian Space Research Organization’s heaviest and most-advanced high throughput communication satellite GSAT-11 was successfully launched from the Spaceport in French Guiana on the early hours of 5th December 2018.

  • The 5,854-kg GSAT-11 will provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands through 32 user beams in ka- band.
  • “GSAT-11 will boost the broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible Gram Panchayats in the country coming under the Bharat Net Project, which is part of Digital India Programme,” – ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan.
  • The Bharat Net Project aims to enhance the public welfare schemes like e-banking, e-health and e-governance among others.


The Nano Mission is an umbrella programme of Government of India for overall development in the field of Nano technology through studies, research and innovations.

  • Nanotechnology deals with variety of applications in, medical, space, telecommunications, food processing and environmental protection.
  • Acknowledging its vast potential, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) launched a programme called Nano Science and Technology Initiative (NIST) in 2001. The Nano Mission is successor of this programme.
  • The Government approved Nano Mission in 2007 with an initial allocation of Rs 1000/- crore.
  • The Nano Mission has been structured in a fashion so as to achieve synergy between the national research efforts of various agencies in Nano Science and Technology and launch new programmes in a concerted fashion. International collaborative research efforts will also be made wherever required.
  • Today, India has emerged 6th worldwide in terms of scientific publications. An active research community of about 1000 researchers has emerged. Besides, some interesting applications have already come out of the country.

Objectives of the NANO-Mission:

  • Basic Research Promotion — funding of basic research by individual scientists or groups of scientists and creation of centres of excellence for pursuing and research.
  • Infrastructure Development for Nano Science and Technology Research — For optimal use of expensive and sophisticated facilities, it is proposed to establish a chain of shared facilities across the country.
  • Nano Applications and Technology Development Programmes – The Mission proposes to promote application-oriented Research and Development (R&D) Projects, establish Nano Applications and Technology Development Centres, Nano-Technology Business Incubators etc. Special effort will be made to involve the industrial sector into nanotechnology R&D directly or through Public Private Partnership (PPP) ventures.
  • Human Resource Development — The Mission shall focus on providing effective education and training to researchers and professionals in diversified fields. It is planned to launch M.Sc./ M Tech Programmes, create national and overseas post-doctoral fellowships, chairs in universities, etc.
  • International Collaborations — Apart from exploratory visits of scientists, organization of joint workshops and conferences and joint research projects, it is also planned to facilitate access to sophisticated research facilities abroad, establish joint centres of excellence and forge academia-industry partnerships at the international level wherever required and desirable)

The Department of Science and Technology is the nodal agency for implementing the Nano Mission. At the apex level, it is steered by a Nano Mission Council (NMC). The technical programmes of the Nano Mission are also being guided by two advisory groups, viz. the Nano Science Advisory Group (NSAG) and the Nano Applications and Technology Advisory Group (NATAG).

Establishment of Centres of Excellence

Eleven Units/Core Groups on Nano Science have been sanctioned across the country. These centres of excellence house some of the more sophisticated facilities for sharing with other scientists in the region and would help in promoting scientific research. Seven Centres for Nano Technology focusing on the development of specific applications have also been established. In addition, a centre of excellence on Computational Materials Science has also been established at JNCASR, Bangalore.

International Collaborative Programmes

Nano Science and Technology has prominently figured in all S&T cooperation agreements entered into in recent times. Joint R&D activities are already taking place with several countries.

For example,

  • With the US, several projects have been funded on CNTs in composites, nano-encapsulating materials, etc. under the DST-NSF programme. Several Indo-US Workshops have also been held.
  • With Germany, a programme on engineered functional nanocomposites has started which would focus on magnetic properties, magnetic interactions. Gas-solid interactions including catalysis, etc.
  • Programmes are also on with Italy, EU and developing with Taiwan.
  • ARCI, Hyderabad, which is an autonomous institute of DST has active programme in nanomaterials  with institutions in Russia, Ukraine, Japan, Germany and USA)

Chapter 5- Contributing to a Knowledge-Based Revolution

India got left behind in the Industrial Revolution that swept the world in the last century. But India does have a unique opportunity to contribute in the knowledge based revolution that is sweeping the world today. Towards this end a strategic national flagship initiative Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has been set up under the auspices of the NITI Aayog. AIM’s focus is to create and promote a world class innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout the length and breadth of our country and to provide such an innovation ecosystem that will also transform our job seekers to job creators of the future.

A Holistic Framework :

The Atal Innovation Mission has adopted a holistic framework to achieve its objectives.

  • At the school level there is a tremendous need for creation of an innovative, problem solving mindset in the students of the high schools.
  • At the university and industry levels, there are a growing number of startups. Thanks to several startup initiatives in the country both from the private sector as well as from the government.
  • But there is a growing need for world class Incubators in various institutions of the country to foster and nurture start-ups enabling their success. Incubators would help in providing this support.
  • With 100 smart cities identified in the country, we need to ensure world class Incubators in all these smart cities.
  • Finally a cultural shift in attitudes towards entrepreneurship in needed. Education and awareness of the immense opportunities for entrepreneurial ventures is needed

About Atal Tinkering Labs:

  • With a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’, Atal Innovation Mission has established  Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India.
  • The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
  • ATL is a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode; and learn innovation skills.
  • Young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
  • ATL would contain educational and learning ‘do it yourself’ kits and equipment on – science, electronics, robotics, open source microcontroller boards, sensors and 3D printers and computers.

Practical knowledge, access to tinkering with latest tools and technologies ignites the imagination of children as they learn to apply abstract concepts learnt in the classroom to real world solutions. It triggers a problem solving innovative mindset in the school students. This is very important for the children and youth of our country. If one can start creating innovative prototypes and solutions at the school level, one is also creating a mindset to become potential job creators of the future.


Atal Incubators:

  • The Atal Incubators initiative is to create world class incubators to support the burgeoning number of startups in the country.
  • AIM has already launched incubators, all of which would be operational by end 2019.
  • These incubators will provide the necessary ecosystem of access of technology labs, hiring, training, mentoring, finance, venture capital networks and corporate networks.

Atal challenges:

There is, an urgent need to incentivize relevant problem solving innovations levels across the country at school, university and industry, levels.

  • The Atal Tinkering Challenge at a school level, the Atal New India Challenges at Industry levels, the Atal Small Business Innovation and Research challenges at a national level will incentivize relevant problem solving.
  • Corporates and SMEs can adopt ATLs and students into problem solving, ideation, prototyping, triggering small innovations.
  • Global partnerships can enable sharing of best practices.
  • NGOs and multinational companies can collaborate on almost all these initiatives with succeed without a certain degree of selfless commitment and passion to the cause of innovation and to the cause of betterment of the world we live in.

Collaboration will be key to the success of these, initiatives, AIM has, therefore, launched a Mentors of Change – Mentor India Network across the country and plans to extend it worldwide

Long Term Goals of AIM:

AIM’s future initiatives include establishment and promotion of Small Business Innovation Research and Development on a national scale for accelerating innovation on a large scale in small business/startups/MSME sector.  AIM would also collaborate in Science and Technology Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Rejuvenation (AIM STEE) of innovations in major research institutions of the country like Council of Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Medical Research (ICMR) aligned to national socio economic need.


National Challenge for Youth

A National Challenge for Youth, “Ideate for India – Creative Solutions using Technology” vas launched in New Delhi recently.

  • The aim or this National Challenge is to give school students across the country a platform and opportunity to become solution creators for the problems they sec around them and their communities.
  • “Ideate for India” will empower and enable these students to transition from being ‘users’ of technology to become ‘creators’ of new indigenous technologies to solve local problems in their community by re-imagining solutions to work out critical local issues.
  • The National Challenge is open to students of classes 6 – 12 all across the country.
  • There are 11 core theme areas on which students can share their ideas.
  • The Challenge requires students to access online videos and understand how to identify problems and share a 90 second video explaining the problem and their proposed solution.


Chapter 6- Innovation Oriented Initiatives in Higher Education

The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.

-Rabindranath Tagore

Successful pursuit in science, engineering and technology yields discovery invention and innovation respectively. Therefore, engineering education must build on relevant scientific theories and principles to address the issues of ‘need’ of the society

MHRD Initiatives on Promotion of Innovation:

In recent times, the Higher Education Department of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) has launched several new and innovation programs to make higher education more pervasive and effective and usher in significant positive changes in the higher education system, particularly in engineering and technology. Some of the notable initiatives are summarized below:

  1. Research and Innovation: Start up India Initiative for HEIs

To promote the culture of ‘innovation’ in tune with the declaration of 21st century as the century of innovation and the PM’s desire to dedicate 2010-20 as the ‘Decade of Innovation’, MHRD has launched MHRD Innovation Cell (MIC) and Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) to systematically foster the culture of innovation in all higher education institutes (HEIs) across the country by encouraging and nurturing young students to explore new ideas that can result into innovative products and activities and in turn can make them successful entrepreneurs one day. The initiative envisages creation of 1000 Institute Innovation Centers (IIC) across the country to spread awareness, promote the culture of innovation among students and create an effective eco system for ushering in ‘New India’ that can compete with likes of Stanford and MIT

  1. Global Initiative for Academic Network (GIAN)

GIAN aims to connect the Indian academia with the international talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs by inviting them to teach and participate in research in Indian HEis. GIAN should augment quality of professionals in academia, and elevate India’s scientific and technological standing in the global benchmark.

  1. Scheme for Academic Research and Promotion by Collaboration (SPARC)

SPARC is a new and logical follow up initiative of MHRD after GIAN for improving the research ecosystem of India’s HEIs by facilitating academic and research collaborations between Indian academia and best institutions in the world.

  1. Digital India-e-learning

The main objective of this virtual classroom initiative is to enable millions of youth outside the university campus to access best quality teachers and teaching courses in an easy paced manner without having to pay large tuition fees or even qualify through JEE or other entrance examinations. MOOCs will allow limited interaction with faculty, take examinations and even earn certificates that may help in getting employment.

  1. Research and Innovation

Under this initiative, 20 new Design Innovation Centers (DIC), one Open Design School (ODS) and a National Design Innovation Network (NDIN) are planned to be set up with interlinks.

  1. Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY)

UAY promotes industry sponsored, outcome-oriented research projects. The project cost is met to the extent of 50 per cent by MHRD and 25 per cent each by the Industry and host Institute. The objectives of UAY scheme are to promote innovation in IITS, connect with manufacturing industries, spur innovative mindset and promote collaboration and cooperation between academia and industry.

Innovation in HEIs-IMPRINT:

The Government of India, in order to promote the culture of innovation in India, particularly in the technology institutions like IITs, NITs and all other HEIs recently formulated a new and unique scheme called Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT), primarily with the goal of translation of knowledge from research into viable technology (product or process)


IMPRINT is different from usual research initiatives because

  • it is meant not only for creation but for translation of knowledge into viable technology,
  • it addresses not just one but all technology challenges faced by the nation,
  • it relies upon a total inclusive model of crowd sourcing and involving all concerned stakeholders from Ministry to industry.

Imprint II:

Encouraged by the success of IMPRINT I, a newer version called IMPRINT II, was planned in a more inclusive manner by expanding the catchment of implementing institutions by adopting a more demand-driven strategy of solution development and by incorporating the specific requirements of the states of India so as to make end-user translation and technology adoption easier. The SERB (Science and Engineering Research Board) in the Department of Science & Technology (DST) was made the nodal agency for implementing the IMPRINT II initiative working along with the National Coordinator.

Core mandate of IMPRINT II :

  • Develop products/processes and viable technologies for addressing the identified challenges in different domains
  • Formulate and develop focused translational projects against identified technology thrust areas by various stakeholder ministers
  • Evolve new technology transfer models for enabling technology diffusion to industry and stakeholders
  • Continuously monitor and refine the challenges and gaps in the various technology domains and collect feedback from stakeholder ministries/industry
  • Align the programmers and projects with the needs of various industry sectors and the States of India in order to achieve end-user translation
  • Facilitate building capability and competence in identified technology thrust areas in the various HEIs and universities in order to plug the demand-supply gap


Innovation has become synonymous with evolution and progress in life. Education is the only way to effectively train the population not only to benefit from the exploits and fruits of innovation but also to actively participate and contribute to this crusade for creating a better, safer and healthier planet.

Chapter 7- Improving Governance in Public Systems

Innovations which exist in the public domain are often overlapping and are not restricted to a particular category. However, for a better understanding, innovations in public systems may be broadly categorized.

Types of Innovation:

  1. Service Innovations: intend to introduce a new service, product or improvement in the quality of an existing service or product.
  • Bhart Interface for Money (BHIM) is a mobile application developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) which enables e-payments directly through banks.
  1. Service Delivery Innovations: create a new or improved way of delivering specific public service to the citizens that aim at improving accessibility, targeting user needs more accurately, bringing in simplification of procedures etc.
  • Common Service Centers (CSCs) are the access points for delivery of essential public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services, apart from a host of Business to Citizen (B2C) services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country. It is a pan-India network catering to the regional, geographic, linguistic and cultural diversity of the country, thus enabling the Government’s mandate of a socially, financially and digitally inclusive society
  1. Administrative/Organizational Innovations target to change the hierarchical structures and administrative routines in the Government
  • Electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) is a Pan-India electronic trading portal launched in 2016 completely funded by the Central Government and implemented by Small Farmer’s Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC). It creates a national network of physical mandis which can be accessed online thus enabling buyers, situated even outside the State, to participate in trading at the local level.
  1. Policy Innovations bring about the systemic culture of nurturing fresh ideas. Best practices that have a proven record of sustainability may be incorporated and be advocated as a policy. Drafting a policy for promotion of innovations itself is a policy innovation. This may include incentivizing mechanism, identifying and appointing innovation officers in each Departments etc among others
  • National Policy on Biofuels (2018) was first drafted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in 2009 but later was shifted to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 2017 and was finally launched in 2018. The policy encourages the use of biofuels by extending appropriated financial incentives under various categories which results in reduced import dependency, a cleaner environment, employment generation etc.
  1. Systemic Innovations employ new or improved ways of interacting with the citizens and engage them in service design which encourages a participative approach in governance and improves the magnitude of stakeholder consultation in decision making.
  • Indian Innovation Growth Program is a public, private partnership of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Lockheed Martin Corporation. This initiative throws open a chance to the public to suggest innovative solutions to major societal problems.

Centre for Innovations in Public System (CIPS):

  • CIPS, being a national body established by the Government of India in 2010 as an autonomous centre at ASCI, Hyderabad.
  • It was established with a mandate to promote innovations in public systems, is working with Central Ministries, State Governments, Union Territories and Not-for-profit organizations to actively promote and disseminate practices which have resulted in enhanced service delivery, increased efficiency and cost reduction.
  • CIPS also acts as a platform for sharing and disseminating knowledge on themes of critical importance.


Effectively promoting Innovations in Public System:

  1. Understanding Opportunities and Problems
  • Begins with a prompt or trigger including problems, failures and complaints which makes innovation either possible or necessary.
  • Attuned to new trends, customer demands, data or technologies and innovations that are happening elsewhere.
  • Emphasise better understanding of how people live their lives, and how services are used to help improve them.
  • Find new insights into what people need, to end up with a clearly defined problem.
  1. Generating and Sharing Useful Ideas
  • Prioritise the areas of concern (e.g. health education, infrastructure, water supply, sanitation, PDS etc) which need to be addressed.
  • Identify different types and sources of data, information and knowledge that are relevant.
  • Channelize data, information and knowledge into a usable form so that it can be fully exploited to support evidence-based decision making.
  • Share information collected with wider sets of actors.
  1. Collaborating with Like-minded, Stakeholders
  • Identify and assess the importance of key people, group of people or institutions
  • Define whom to involve in designing a multi-stakeholder process.
  • Understand the role of multiple stakeholders who are likely to be involved in promoting innovation.
  • Describe the roles and responsibilities of those expected to support the long-term sustainability of innovation.
  • Sensitize/build the capacities of relevant stakeholders to develop a culture of ownership and responsibility amongst them
  • Create a knowledge repository that facilitates the availability of information in the public
  1. Documenting Innovations

While documenting an innovation, the following heads shall be covered

  • Concept and Types of Innovations
  • Skills and Tools Involved
  • Learning based Monitoring and Evaluation System
  • Processes and Linkages for scaling up
  • Change in Practice
  • Use of new knowledge/new use of existing knowledge

Potential Challenges in identifying, documenting and replicating innovations:

  • Resource mobilization
  • Departmental silos and lack of convergence mechanism’
  • Fading away of the innovation due to change in the personnel
  • Lack of institutional memory
  • Transfer of ownership
  • Lack of domain expertise
  • Internal animosity between different wings of Government/Organization

Innovative Practice High Potential for Adoption/Replication:

Ecological Sanitation (ECOSAN)

  • ECOSAN, an initiative that is one of its kind, offers an economical and simple-to-use option in contrast to the conventional waste transfer methods where the human excreta and body wash waster do not go waste.
  • The toilet is in daily use and never smells.
  • The urine is collected in a drum/pot outside the toilet for later use, and body wash water is used beneficially by diversion to the trees outside.
  • ECOSAN toilets are much more helpful in flood-prone areas as it is completely sealed and would not result in overflow.
  • And they are highly useful in drought-prone areas for being a remarkable alternative in the sustainable use of water.
  • ECOSAN toilets reduce health risks due to contamination of drinking water by human waste; to prevent ground and surface water pollution, and to reuse the energy content within the human waste.

Use of Plastic Waste in Road Construction

  • Disposal of plastic waste is a serious concern in India and one technological approach developed by Prof. Rajagopalan Vasudevan has been found be very useful in utilizing plastic waste on large scale.
  • The salient feature of the whole process of constructing plastic roads is simple and easy and does not require any new machinery and industrial involvement.
  • The utilization of plastic waste to improve the properties of the bituminous mix offers a very promising alternative with its bilk and eco-friendly usage.
  • The plastic roads ensure enhanced load carrying strength, water resistance, negligible maintenance cost and reduction of bitumen consumption by 10 per cent

Urban Greening Activates by Kochi Metro Rail Limited

  • Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) is in the process of adding greenery to the infrastructure being created, thereby contributing to the enhanced green cover in and around Kochi.
  • KMRL as a part of the environmental impact assessment report, has to compensate for the trees removed during the process of project implementation by planting trees in the ratio of 1:10

Mother Tongue Based-Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE)

  • MTB-MLE is an approach to address the educational challenges faced by the indigenous population in this approach, children start learning in their mother tongue in early grades with a gradual transition to a regional language and an international language.

Establishment of Vision Centres

  • Establishment of Vision Centres in rural villages with tele-ophthalmology connectivity with Base Hospital is an effective model to reach patients who otherwise do not have access to quality eye care.
  • This model makes eye care services available for the rural population at their doorsteps this leading to considerable reduction of the burden of cost and in preventing avoidable blindness.


It is fair to conclude that innovations in public systems are indispensable and it is both a continuous process as well as a result. It is also a specific area of high importance where tools methods and approaches are in constant evolution to facilitate identification, documentation and replication of innovations.

Chapter 8- Transforming Public Transport in India

With rapid growth of population in the cities and increase in motor vehicles, the urban space in India for creation of the necessary infrastructure is shrinking every year. An average of 60,000 vehicles is sold every day in India. On the other hand, the consistent growth of population is further widening the gap between demand and supply of public transport needs. An effective public transport system like Metro Rail has become the core priority of urban administrations to ease the urban commutation


  • Metro rail is operated on non-pollutant energy and is most preferable in densely populated urban spaces. Undoubtedly, the Mass Transit System is by far the most remarkable invention in public transport
  • The Metros across the world have undoubtedly smoothened the public transport wherever they were introduced.
  • Besides offering the best public transport, cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo are running Metros with operational profit.
  • Delhi Metro too earned a spot as an operational profitable metro in the world. This success of Delhi Metro sparked a new era of Metro revolution in India.


Traditional System: A Pollution Hazard


Almost all major cities in the country are facing similar challenges in public transport. Unfortunately, the traditional means of public transport are outdated and carry only limited capacity. They are far from matching the growing needs of the population. Not to forget, they are also contributing to pollution and the never ending traffic woes. With people stuck in traffic, billions of productive working hours are lost every year. The stranded vehicles on roads are also intensifying vehicles on roads are also intensifying the toxic emissions in the urban sphere. Given the current scenario the cities need an innovative public transport system that operates on non-pollutant resources and meets the specific mobility needs of large populations. Metro provides an eco-friendly and comfortable travel experience.


Charging Urban Mobility needs:


Building the metro alone does not ensure its successful operation. In order to make a system viable and reliable, we must constantly update the system to match the changing needs of commuters. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s success is owed to the countless innovative practices that were initiated in every stage of its journey.


Delhi Metro: Energy Efficient Techniques:

DMRC became the first railway project in the world to win carbon credits. The carbon credit is a permit which allows a country or organization to produce certain amount of emissions which can be traded if full allowance is not used.

Delhi Metro is one of the pioneers in adopting energy efficient techniques. In order to bring down the energy consumption levels, the Delhi Metro developed its own solar power generation plants on rooftops of stations and depots.

It adopted different methods such as regenerating braking and model shift projects for optimal use of the energy.


Creating Awareness:


  • The early years were more challenging for DMRC. When metro was launched, it was an alien system for many living in the close vicinity of metro stations.
  • DMRC had to bring a sea of change in the culture through awareness campaigns to make them use the advance facilities offered in a metro.
  • Numerous social campaigns to raise awareness on the use of escalators, lifts, automatic face collection gates and usage of smart cards were carried out. For this, DMRC used highly engaging theatre arts such as Nukkad Nataks and Puppet Shows.

Delhi Metro experiment shows that MRT system is capable of carrying large number of people from one point to another without occupying too much space for infrastructure. This system is the answer to future transport challenges that will emerge as the cities grow bigger. In future, there shall be more successful metro projects like Delhi Metro.


Chapter 9- Improving Competitiveness in SMEs

Undoubtedly, Small and Medium Enterprises play a highly significant role in India’s developing economy. They contribute to economic growth, employment, reduction of poverty and thus aptly are considered as the engines of growth. Apart from this, Entrepreneurship and Innovation activities enhance competition and productivity growth as well. In addition, SMEs are more productive because they are more flexible and can adapt to the changes in the market.

Given the paramountcy of the sector, it is critical to ensure that our SMEs remain competitive both nationally and globally. Indian SMEs face a formidable challenge in this regard. The up-dation of GOI Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013, provided a big impetus to build an innovation ecosystem and to enhance the role of the private sector to do the same. The Ministry of MSME, apart from providing them financial subsidy and incentives to buy machinery, file trademarks, and expert advice, runs various schemes and programs to support the technological and other innovations in Indian SMEs.


  • First and foremost initiative that needs mention is is the huge allocation of Rs 3794 crore in the current FY Union Budget for enhancing the financing and innovative capacity of the MSME Sector.
  • Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana is another milestone reduction in tax rates to 25 per cent made by the Government during the last financial year, again, has proved the way for making available additional capital to the SME sector.
  • A scheme for promotion of innovation, rural industry and entrepreneurship (ASPIRE) was launched on 16th March 2015. The most important component of this scheme is setting up 100 livelihood and 20 technology related incubators.
  • With a view to generate employment opportunities in rural as well as urban areas of the country through setting up of new self-employment ventures/projects/micro enterprises, Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme was launched on 15th August 2008.
  • Another boost provided by the Government for the growth of MSME sector is the CGTMSE (Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises) the whole idea behind which has been to provide financial assistance to these industries without any third party guarantee/ or collateral. The assurance to the lenders that in case of default by them, a guarantee cover will be provided by trust in the ration of 50/75/80/85 percent of the amount so given.
  • The Revamped Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) has further been infused with Rs 1.25 crore in 2018-19 budgets.


India’s small and medium business are using their advantages such as size, agility and innovation as their top three strategies for driving revenue growth in 2018. Thus, the efforts of the Government have started bearing positive results and showing remarkable improvement and India has succeeded in attaining 57th rank in 2018 Global Innovation Index.

Chapter 10- Adding more meaning to Money

Success or failure of an innovation also depends upon use of technology and this can be said more specifically in the context of innovations in the financial sector in India. Starting from Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana to Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana or even Goods and Services Tax (GST) all are being implemented with the help of information technology making them emphatic and more importantly cost-effective, both for the Government as well for the masses. Most of these innovations are complimenting each other and thus providing a bigger basket of schemes for welfare of the common man.

Recent innovations in financial and banking sectors which have impacted the economy and benefited the common man:

  1. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY):
  • The scheme aims to ensure access to various financial services like availability of basic savings bank account access to need based credit, remittances facility, insurance and pension to the excluded sections i.e. weaker sections and low-income groups.
  • This deep penetration at affordable cost is possible only with effective use of technology.
  • This scheme was an innovation as significant changes in the earlier scheme of financial inclusion – Swabhimaan was made.
  • PMJDY was implemented with more of machine than a concrete structure.
  • The scheme also prescribes plastic currency in the form of RuPay card for all such accounts making a bigger impact in digital payment system.
  • The scheme envisages channelizing all government benefits to the accounts and pushing the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme of the Union Government. DBT transfer is a win-win situation for both the common man and the Government.
  • Another key feature of PMJDY is ease of opening bank accounts.
  • The Press Release said that those persons who do not have any of the ‘officially valid documents’ can open “Small Accounts” with banks.
  • Small Accounts: A “Small Accounts” can be opened on the basis of a self-attested photograph and putting his/her signatures or thumb print in the presence of officials of the bank. Such accounts have limitations regarding the aggregate credits (not more than Rs one lakh in year), aggregate withdrawals (nor more than Rs ten thousand in a month) and balance in the accounts (not more than Rs fifty thousand at any point of time) These accounts would be valid normally for a period of twelve months. Thereafter, such accounts would be allowed to continue for a further period of twelve more moths, if the account-holder provides a document showing that he/she has applied for any of the Officially Valid Document, within 12 months of opening the small account.
  • Accidental insurance cover for new RuPay card holders to be raised from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh to new PMJDY accounts opened
  1. Insurance and Pension Schemes for Social Security:
  • Government innovated schemes and introduced three schemes, two for insurance three schemes, and two for insurance and one for pension.
  • All are targeted especially for the poor and the under-privileged.
  1. Scheme for Life Insurance:
    • The Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) is a one-year life insurance scheme, renewable from year to year, offering coverage for death due to any reason and is available to people in the age group of 18 to 50 years (life cover upto age 55) having a savings bank account who give their consent to join and enable auto-debit Life cover of Rs 2 lakhs is available for a one year period at a premium of Rs 330/- per annum per member and is renewable every year which means premium of less than Rs 1 per day.
    • It is offered/administered through LIC and other private. Life Insurance companies a person can join PMJJBY with one Insurance company with one bank account only.
  1. Death and Accident Cover through non-life insurance scheme:
    • Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) is aimed at covering the uncovered population at highly affordable premium of just Rs 12 per year i.e. Re 1 a month.
    • The Scheme will be available to people in the age group 18 to 70 years with a savings bank account who give their consent to join and enable auto debit.
    • Under the said scheme, risk coverage available will be Rs 2 lakh for accidental death and permanent total disability and Rs 1 lakh for permanent partial disability, for a one-year period stretching.
    • It is offered by Public Sector General Insurance Companies or any other General Insurance Company who are willing to offer the product on similar terms with necessary approvals and tie up with banks for this purpose.
    • Further, in order to assure a hassle-free claim settlement experience for the claimants a simple and subscriber friendly administration and claim settlement process has been put in place.
    • An IT enabled, web-based system is there to keep the claimants informed seamlessly about the progress and status of the claim, till it’s settlement.
  1. Pension Scheme:
    • Atal Pension Yojana (APY) is open to all bank account holders.
    • However, the Central Government is co-contributing 50 percent of the total contribution or Rs 1000 per annum, whichever is lower, to each eligible subscriber, for a period of 5 years, i.e., from Financial Year 2015-16 to 2019-20, who joined the scheme before December 31, 2015 and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme and who are not income tax payers.
    • The subscribers would receive the fixed minimum pension of Rs 1000 per month, Rs 2000 per month, Rs. 3000 per month Rs. 4000 per month, Rs. 5000 per month, at the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which itself would be based on the age of joining the scheme therefore, the benefit of minimum pension would be guaranteed by the Government.
    • The minimum age of joining APY is 18 years and maximum age is 40 years.
  1. MUDRA:
  • MUDRA scheme aims at Non-Corporate Small Business Segment (NCSB) comprising of millions of proprietorship/partnership firms running as small manufacturing units, service sector units, shopkeepers, fruits/vegetable vendors, truck operators, food-service units, repair shops, machine operators, small industries, artisans, food processors and others, in rural and urban areas.
  • It is a refinancing Institution and does not lend directly to the micro entrepreneurs / individuals.
  • Mudra loans under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) can be availed of from nearby branch office of a bank, NBFC, MFIs etc.
  • Loans can be availed upto Rs 10 lakh under three products namely ‘Shishu (loan up to Rs 50,000)’ ‘Kishore (loan between Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakhs) and ‘Tarun (loan between Rs 5 lakhs and Rs 10 lakhs)’ to signify the stage of growth / development and funding needs of the beneficiary micro unit / entrepreneur and also provide a reference point for the next phase of graduation / growth.
  1. Stand-Up India:
  • In order to promote entrepreneurship among Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe and women, it is an innovation over existing credit mechanism of various banks and is intended to facilitate bank loans between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 crore to at least one SC/ST borrower and at least one women borrower per bank branch for setting up greenfield enterprises which may be in manufacturing, services or the trading sector.
  • The scheme which is being implemented through all Scheduled Commercial Bank is to benefit at least 2.5 lakh borrowers. The scheme is operational and the loan is being extended through Schedule Commercial Banks across the country.

These financial innovations have made life made easier for a larger section of people. And the best thing is that changes are being incorporated based on field experience making these schemes more effective.

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The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2020.

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