Sona, which is in the metal-forming business, does all its design, analytical work, and simulation in virtual space, where costs were very low. He therefore expressed doubt that India’s private sector needs to spend a much higher percentage of its revenue on R&D.
However, the real issue, he stressed, is that R&D is required by companies creating their own products and processes, their own intellectual property, rather than by contract manufacturers. He noted that Swati Piramal was to speak later in the day about the R&D efforts that Nicholas Piramal India Limited is making because such efforts are now required of pharmaceutical companies whereas they had not been in the past. A change was taking place, everyone had begun doing R&D, and this would be reflected in spending growth.
Dr. Kapur then turned to the issue of skill development, which, he predicted, would impel great movement in public–private partnerships. India possesses a phenomenal physical infrastructure in its Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), but owing to a lack of state funding they have unfortunately been allowed to decay over the years. A shift is under way, however: The previous year, India’s Finance Minister challenged industry to create partnerships with ITIs, and many firms are beginning to work with their local institutes. His own state, Haryana, has relinquished exclusive ownership of its ITIs, giving industry a much larger role in them. The private sector will assume increasing responsibility for skill development because, as Dr. Kapur put it, “this is our requirement and we need to do it for ourselves.”
Dr. Dahlman said that if India could leverage the resources it had within its own national economy, it would make tremendous progress. Critical to this was Indo–U.S. collaboration, which has the potential to become “a very nice, symbiotic strategic alliance.” This prospect, he stated, lent excitement to the day’s meeting, and it would, he hoped, provide the impetus for nailing down specific opportunities for partnership.
Dr. Patel concluded by thanking the presenters and questioners alike for a very interesting session.