Economy
Building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in India
Development, industrialization and jobs are intrinsically linked to entrepreneurship
 
The Narendra Modi government completed one year in office on Monday (May 25). One of the centerpieces of why the BJP-led NDA dispensation came to power was is its focus on development and governance.
 
Development, industrialization and jobs are intrinsically linked to entrepreneurship. The greater the number of entrepreneurs in a society the greater are the chances of prosperity for the people residing in it. Entrepreneurship is critical as it also leads to innovation, betterment in the quality of life and greater social progress within a society. 
 
While it is worthwhile to notice that the present government has for the first time introduced a Ministry of Entrepreneurship (with Skill Development), the fact remains that India’s record is at best poor at nurturing entrepreneurs and creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Can the present government dream of creating the next Silicon Valley? That would require taking stock of the present reality in the entrepreneurial space necessary for betting conditions in the future. India’s position on global indices as well on several other indicators of entrepreneurship at present is alarming. Though the present government is taking steps to better some of these, the approach seems to be piecemeal. 
 
The GEI (Global Entrepreneurship Index 2015) places India at a dismal 104th rank below all the BRICS economies that stood thus (China-61, Russia-70, Brazil-100). The best-performing country on the Index is unsurprisingly, the US. On the three pillars too which make up the composite index, India performs relatively better on Entrepreneurial Attitude pillar, (95), at an average level on the Entrepreneurial Aspiration pillar (104) and relatively poorly on the Entrepreneurial Ability pillar (107). 
 
Another major study undertaken in 2013, on Indian entrepreneurship is The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). It pointed out that the entrepreneurial attitude (particularly on viewing entrepreneurship as a desirable career choice), relatively speaking with other BRICS economies was low in India. Only 61 percentof the adults in the sample (in the age bracket of 18-64) looked at entrepreneurship as a desirable career option. The figure was 70 percent in BRICs economies and 77 percent in factor-driven economies. 
 
Also, the same study used a measure of total TEA - Total Early Stage Entrepreneurial Activity. This is described in the study as the percentage of individuals in the sample age between 18 and 64 years who are in the process of either starting a new business or have recently started one. India performed relatively poorly on this measure in comparison to other BRICS countries, with only Russia behind it. 
 
The data in enterprise surveys from the World Bank reveals an interesting story. The new firm density described by the enterprise surveys as number of new corporations created per 1,000 working age (16-64 years) individuals is found to be dismally low in India. On an average, we create 288 times less number of corporations per 1,000 working age individuals as compared to Hong Kong. In absolute numbers too, cumulatively from a period of 2004-12 the newly registered corporations were lesser in India than much smaller places like Hong Kong. 
 
It brings one to a related issue of clusters and why India has faltered in a coherent cluster approach that enables enterprise creation. The fact that exports from the country have not been able to keep pace with the imports points to rising domestic demand. In addition, it also points to a failure on the part of India to ‘make’ and equally importantly ‘market’ our goods and services well in the global economy. While Indians (at least some of them) prefer to buy Italian leather shoes, the fact that we do not have companies/shoemakers in Agra selling at half the price shows our inability to market our products well. 
 
A place where we have been able to do relatively well is the IT/ITeS segment with $98 billion exports in 2014-15. However, the fact remains in most export segments we have languished. The thrust on Make in India is thus understandable. Augmentation of large corporations with the development of MSME clusters, especially with newer enterprises and entrepreneurs, will go a long way in bettering prospects for the future. It will bring not only jobs but also raise the standard of living of some one million people that will enter the workforce every month for the coming decade. 
 
It is worthwhile to keep in mind that Silicon Valley as a cluster arose out of specific historical developments in time (like access to VC capital, Stanford’s Institutional support, US defense spending). However a similar if not same ecosystem can be nurtured in the Indian context. It would require the following key elements:
 
* Education: Educational institutions that enable independent thinking and foster risk taking in students.
 
* Funding: India is a fairly nascent market with respect to angel investments and VCs, equivalent to approximately $1 billion annually at present. This will have to be considerably expanded. 
 
* Technology development: To be done by talented and educated individuals.
 
* Access to Infrastructure: Include basic requirements like power supply, land, the internet, et al.
 
* Social and cultural support: For taking failure as a part of the learning curve and a stepping-stone to success.
 
* Better Regulations: In ease of setting up and winding a formal business. 
 
* Stringent IP protection regime: For the protection of entrepreneurs against larger players.
 
* Trust, teamwork and a spirit of collaboration: Among institutions, networks, and people. 
 
The present scenario throws up some fundamental questions about the basis of entrepreneurship? In our view, specialization, innovation and marketing (SIM) should be the basis of entrepreneurship that would drive more value creation in the Indian context. Newer business models that focus on society, scale and simplicity would better the outcomes for India in the future. 

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Curiosity rover begins new journey on Mars

Curiosity rover begins new journey on Mars

 

Unable to reach a comparable geological contact farther south on Red Planet, NASA's Curiosity rover has now approached an alternative site for investigating a geological boundary.
 
Such geological contacts can reveal clues about how environmental conditions that produced one type of rock were related to conditions that produced the other.
 
Two weeks ago, Curiosity was headed for a comparable geological contact farther south.
 
Foiled by slippery slopes on the way there, the team rerouted the vehicle and chose a westward path.
 
The mission's strategic planning keeps multiple route options open to deal with such situations.
 
"Mars can be very deceptive," said Chris Roumeliotis, Curiosity's lead rover driver at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
 
Sand ripples have caused Curiosity a lot of drive slip in the past but there appeared to be terrain with rockier, more consolidated characteristics directly adjacent to these ripples.
 
"So we drove around the sand ripples onto what we expected to be firmer terrain that would give Curiosity better traction," Roumeliotis added in a NASA statement.
 
The drive of about 72 feet up slopes as steep as 21 degrees brought Curiosity close to a target area where two distinctive types of bedrock meet.
 
The rover science team wants to examine an outcrop that contains the contact between the pale rock unit the mission analysed lower on Mount Sharp.
 
Curiosity has been exploring on Mars since 2012.
 
It reached the base of Mount Sharp last year after fruitfully investigating outcrops closer to its landing site and then trekking to the mountain.
 
The main mission objective now is to examine successively higher layers of Mount Sharp.

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Karnataka ready for ED probe into lottery scam
The Karnataka government would allow Enforcement Directorate (ED) to investigate the lottery scam if it had an inter-state fallout, Home Minister K.J. George said Monday.
 
"We are ready to hand over the lottery scam to the ED for further investigation if it (scam) had spread to other states though it (ED) can probe on its own inter-state scams," George told reporters here.
 
Part of the union finance ministry's revenue department, the ED is a law enforcement and economic intelligence agency responsible for fighting economic crimes.
 
"The ED can investigate any inter-state scam as it does not need our permission to take up economic offence cases," George said.
 
The state CID probed the multi-crore single-digit lottery scam after a Kannada news channel telecast a sting operation in mid-April on its kingpin Peri Rajan boasting high connections with top police officials.
 
The state government on Saturday suspended Bengaluru additional commissioner of police Alok Kumar, a 1994 IPS officer, after the CID's interim report named him as having links with Rajan.
 
"Except that of Kumar, the CID report has not mentioned names of other police officers, serving or retired," George said, denying reports in a section of the media that six more top-ranking police officers had nexus with Rajan.
 
A team of CID sleuths interrogated Kumar on Sunday and Monday to ascertain his association with Rajan and his alleged role in interfering with the probe.
 
Superintendent of Police, Lottery Squad, Dharanesh was suspended earlier this month, as he was heard talking to Rajan in the sting operation's video clip.
 
Meanwhile, Governor Vajubhai Vala has sought a report on the scam and the alleged involvement of senior police officers in it.
 
Meanwhile, Rajan was shifted to the central jail here from the sub-jail at Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) under tight security earlier in the day.

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