The Global Innovation Index (GII) rankings, published annually by Cornell University, INSEAD and the UN World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), ranks India at the 57th spot this year—a leap from its 81st position in 2015. The rankings should help policymakers to look at gaps in driving innovation. The GII ranks the nations based on 80 indicators, ranging from intellectual property filing rates, R&D, and mobile application creation to education spending, ease of doing business, scientific and technical publications, and political stability. India maintains its top place in central and south Asia and is also a top performer in the lower middle income group, where it is ranked 5th.
Although India fares well in indicators such as total number of graduates in engineering and science, ICT services exports, gross capital formation, domestic market scale and the ease of protecting minority investors, it ranks poorly in others such as political safety and stability, ease of starting business, overall education, and environmental/ecological performance. India, even with its game-changing UPI and success stories of many start-ups, comes nowhere close to China. China is ranked 17th in this year’s edition, chiefly due to its policies that prioritise domestic technology-facilitated research and business expansion. It is the highest ranked middle-income nation, even outperforming some high-income ones. Across the R&D, tertiary education, and the quality of research publications categories, China ranks among the top two. Considering this, it is not surprising to see Chinese universities ranked amongst the world’s best (Tsinghua and Peking universities), its economy attracting some of the biggest players in the technology sector (with Tesla announcing the installation of a manufacturing facility in the country recently), and its home-grown start-ups dominating developing markets overseas (with Alibaba, for example). India needs to take a page out of China’s innovation book if it aspires to achieve a similar rate of success, starting with developing an appropriate institutional framework that will facilitate the growth of next-generation industries and companies; otherwise the ‘brain-drain’ will continue.