Public Lecture: Saradindu Bhaduri

The evolving agenda of frugal innovation research in India

 

India's huge informal economy is widely seen as 'a hotbed' of frugal innovations. Research on such innovations started around a decade and a half ago, and prospered under the themes of 'jugaad', 'grassroots' or 'informal sector' innovations. Despite their opverwhelming presence, and distinctive characteristics, the policy encouragement and regulatory support has either been absent or inadequate. In the mainstream innovation policy discussion, these innovations, have, hitherto, been overlooked, largely, because of their small scale, and the absence of the so called 'finnesse'. Examples of how they resolve localised needs, however, have continued to baffle us. The few compassionate policy efforts geared to promote such activities have attempted to, often unsuccessfully, 'mainstream' them by offering the scope of technological collaborations with R&D laboratories, and intellectual property rights protections. In this backdrop the talk will discuss how the agenda of frugal innovations research have evolved in India from trying to identify the key motivations behind such innovations, to understanding the value chain of their production, to analysing the process of their legitimization and knowledge validation. The key regulatory challenges are discussed along with the possible ways of overcoming those challenges, while being sensitive to the trade-offs between 'scale' and 'frugal-ness' of these innovations.

Moderation: Robert Braun

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Saradindu Bhaduri is Associate Professor at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Professor (Emeriti) at the International Institute of Social Studies (of Erasmus University Rotterdam) in The Hague, The Netherlands, where he held the Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity during 2015-17. Bhaduri is the founding coordinator of the Trans-disciplinary Research Cluster on Frugality Studies at JNU. He completed his PhD in Economics from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and has been a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Evolutionary Economics at the (erstwhile) Max Plank Institute of Economics (Jena), Germany. Bhaduri and his team works on grassroots, frugal and incremental innovation and related policy processes in the context of developing economies.  Bhaduri has been on the editorial board of Innovation and Development, and African Journal of Science Technology, Innovation and Development. He has been a research consultant to UNESCAP and involved in providing policy advises to DG Research and Innovation, The European Commission. Bhaduri has co-edited “Informal Sector Innovations: insights from the global south” (Routledge 2016); and the forthcoming “Handbook on Frugal Innovation” (Edward Elgar, 2023).