Statements, Speeches, Interviews

Interview Sam Pitroda. Chairman of the National Innovation Council of India

"Young graduates should not be looking for work, they should be creating it"

Advisor in innovation areas of the Prime Minister of India, he was the main author of the revolution in the innovation system which catapulted the Asian country's R&D

Sam Pitroda. Chairman of the National Innovation Council of India "Young graduates should not be looking for work, they should be creating it" - JUAN LAZARO

"Democratizing technology and its interests"

Antonio Ruiz del Arbol - Madrid - 11/05/2011

The leader of the miracle that has turned India into a technological power in only three decades, Sam Pitroda has come to Spain invited by the Casa Asia to give a conference in the Ramon Areces Foundation and to have a meeting with the Minister of Science and Innovation of Spain, ,Dr. Cristina Garmendia.

Ten years ago we were asking ourselves whether Asian innovation was acceptable or just a copy. Today we are reflecting with anxiety whether India and China's R&D will leave some space for the future of the European companies.

300 years ago, India and China were the leaders in economy, culture and education. In the last three hundred years it's true that the United States and Europe have been leading. In the United States research is driven by defence, and in Europe technology is concerned about solving the problems of the rich. This model has turned around. Now there is lots of talent, specially young talent, in India and China. Communication technologies have changed the paradigm. Internet and the web universe bring accelerated changes with opportunities that China and India have learned to exploit.

Can we talk of Asian technology?

Technology is global and multidisciplinary. We can't innovate in isolation; we need colaboration, teams and networking.

Can India's problems be tackled with European technology and vice versa?

There are many problems in countries like India which can only be tackled with technology made or adapted to India, which can only be understood and tackled by the Indians. The problems of the poor, of poor societies, require another approach. This is a challenge which both China and India are facing. Two countries where there is lots of innovation and from which much more innovation will come out, because there is lots of talent, lots of young talent, lots of cheap talent that is used for resolving problems in their own territories.

Automation expels thousands of people from the job market. How is the productivity-employment relationship resolved?

Technology replaces many jobs, but also creates new ones. It has always happened. The problem arises not beacuse activities disappear, but because we are not able of creating new ones, and this may happen in Europe, the United States and in Asia. Advances coexist with hunger and chronical poverties, with the environment's degradation. Technology must be able of solving these problems. We must aspire to innovation being focused on resolving the new problems. We have to worry not for the jobs that have been lost, but for the jobs technology can create.

Which are the employments that you sponsor?

They can be within clean energies, environment, health, education. There are lots of problems to be solved. If we detect where it's necessary to work, it's evident we'll find work.

What would you say to the young European graduates who are each day more trained and feel it is not helping them find a job?

I would say to them that the jobs the 21st Century is offering them and the skills this millenium requires are different to those from last century. And it seems young and well-trained people resist to realizing and adapting to this categorical reality. If we connect with the skills required in the 21st Century, not only will we find a job but we will create jobs. The fact that people come out from University looking for a job belongs to last Century and not the current one. In the 21st Century, the young people should come out of University determined to create employment.

Is training still the key to employment?

We are always lacking experts in something everywhere. In India we are lacking mathematicians, doctors, physicists, electricists, plumbers. We lack everything because there are lots of people, but not enough trained people. In the United States and in Europe it seems something different is happening, but in reality it's the same phenomenon. There are lots of trained people, but they don't fit with real job demand. There is a mistake in the educational planning.

"Democratizing technology and its interests"
Sam Pitroda is a prophet in innovation but he doesn't ignore that, as well as the financial origin to the current crisis, it has also been caused because the enormous technological development has a global developlemnt, even though its benefits still concentrate on a few. "In the information era, information is a power people do not wish to share." The people behing innovation are there because they have capital at their disposal and becuase they also become richer with it. That is why it's a challenge to democratize technology and information. We can't allow that the minorities that have been innovating up to date keep supplanting the majorities' innitiatives. But change has been set in motion: Europe and the United States have moderated their growth and the countries that can aspire to growing 7% are the Asian ones. Let's hope Africa can soon join." Pitroda is even more direct: "In the last months the high risk funds have had 30,000 million dollars benefits and they only employ 2000 people; banks, who employ one million people, have earned 28,000 million dolars. Other sectors that give jobs to millions of people have had benefits over 10,000 millions. All these people are saying, where is my part? The main problem is that wealth keeps falling in to very few hands."