Entrepreneurship is not new to India. According to the India Industrial Commission report (1916-1918), “At a time when the West of Europe, the birth place of Modern Industrial system, was inhabited by uncivilized tribes, India was famous for the wealth of her rulers and for high artistic skill of her craftsmen. And even at a much later period, when the merchant adventures from the West made their first appearance in India, the industrial development of this country was, at any rate, not inferior to that of the more advanced European nations.”
Passing through time, the Indian economy, across its several stages, could not promote entrepreneurship as a means for self employment on a large scale. The amount of effort put forth by establishment of Government bodies and Institutions along with key policy frameworks resulted in the rise of a number of entrepreneurial ventures, yet most of them are termed as necessity entrepreneurs rather than opportunity entrepreneurs.
The 21st century India is a young country with more than 62% of its population in the working age group (15-59) and more than 54% of its total population below 25 years of age. This is an advantageous factor as the study has found that nascent entrepreneurship prevalence rates are highest in the 25-34 age groups. But, this demographic dividend could prove to be albatross across our necks if we are not able to engage our youths in creative pursuits by developing appropriate skills, including entrepreneurship skills. As of now, only about 5-6% of the youth has access to any kind of skill. To transform the youth into entrepreneurs, Indian government has developed policies and programmes for enhancing their innovation capacity. The Government declared 2010-2020 as the decade of “DECADE OF INNOVATION” and set up the national innovation council to develop a culture of inclusive innovation. The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, 2013 aims to position India among the top five global scientific powers by the year 2020. Under this policy, the government aims to increase the gross expenditure on scientific research and development to 2% of the GDP. The policy also contains plans to establish Technology Business Incubators (TBIs) and science led entrepreneurship institutions. However, with its innovation potential India is underperforming. Its ranking on the Global Innovation Index fell from 57 in 2018 to 52 in 2019.
The National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) is working with numerous campuses across India to promote entrepreneurship among the youths. Another initiative taken by government to encourage collaborative research in is the Australia-India Strategic Research Fund. Start Up India Scheme is meant to provide a hard push to the entrepreneurship and start–up landscape in the country. With the rising number of incubators angel networks, and early stage venture capital fund, the country’s start–up ecosystem is developing gradually. Institutes such as the center for innovation, incubation and entrepreneurship (CIIE) and the entrepreneurship development institute of India (EDII) are some of the frontrunners. EDII has been instrumental in propagating entrepreneurship awareness and training since three decades. It has launched several initiatives through its centers across the country, one such initiative is to initiate the state of village entrepreneurship programme (SVEP) in 23 states to create sustainable self employment opportunities for a large number youth residing in the villages. All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has also released its start-up policy for higher education institutions to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. All of these can provide much needed momentum to the sector and promote a distinct culture of entrepreneurship in India.