India continues to be a laggard at innovation. Provisional data from the World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (Wipo) illustrates this vividly. Patent filings from India under Wipo Patent Cooperation Treaty fell to 686 in 2007 from 831 in 2006. In this 2006 was an exception; Indian patent applications fell continuously from 2003 till 2005.
In comparison, China filed a whopping 5,456 applications. One single Chinese company, Huawei Technologies filed 1,365 applications, almost double that of India as a country.
This is unsurprising, given India’s culture of purchasing technologies off the shelf instead of the more difficult, but also more rewarding, route of research and development. It’s incongruous given India’s large scientific talent pool. It’s not fair to blame a single factor for this state of affairs. It’s clear that India has not understood the nature of externalities that accrue from innovative activities. There are spillovers that benefit other entities and not merely the inventor. India is losing the power these economic effects confer on a country.