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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Odisha still figured in the low income club along with states like Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura and UP, notwithstanding clocking a faster average growth rate during 2014-19 than states like Haryana, Punjab, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra in the high income and upper middle income blocs.

This came to the fore in the Niti Aayog's Innovation Index - 2019 released on Thursday. What is more worrying is Chhattisgarh perches itself in the lower middle income club, a notch higher than Odisha. But State has remained two notch higher than Chhattisgarh in the Innovation Index - 2019.

However, the low income status has stymied Odisha's strive to sit in the top-10 high table. The State has been ranked at number 12 in the Innovation Index.

Despite State government's 'Make in Odisha' overdrive, Odisha scored poor in enabler pillars like investment.

As per the Niti's Innovation Index -2019, Odisha could score mere 1.6 in Investment pillar as it failed to attract investments for innovation that proved a big dampener for the State's rank in Innovation Index.

In the sub-pillars of 'Investment' pillar, while Odisha scored a mere 0.32 in FDI inflow, the State scored a perfect 'zero' score in venture capital deals.

What is Venture Capital? Venture capital funds are investment funds that manage the money of investors who seek private equity stakes in startup and small- to medium-sized enterprises with strong growth potential.

For the slip-ups, Niti Aayog termed the scorings by Odisha in the indicators as an under performer.

Moreover, when zero is considered as worst and 100 the best score in the Innovation index, the State scored mere 1.86 in the sub-pillar of State government's expenditure on higher & technical education.

And the Aayog termed this as 'performing within expected range', given that Odisha has been clubbed in low income club. Low income states don't have the fiscal capacity to spend more on innovation.

In 2019-20 budget, the total programme expenditure on Higher education sector has been pegged at Rs 1,786 crore vis-a-vis Rs 1,971 crore in 2018-19. This shows a cut in allocation to higher education sector in the State.

However, Niti Aayog called Odisha an 'over performer' for its higher expenditure on Science & Technology and Environment. Significantly, the State government has increased the allocation on Science &Technology department to Rs 617 crore in 2019-20 from Rs 312 crore in 2018-19.

More instances that show how Odisha's low income factor played spoilsport in Odisha's Innovation Index.

While the State has scored a high of 93.86 in Ease of Doing Business implementation, the poor scoring rate in number of online transactions and internet subscribers in State have pulled down it in the rank scoring.

The low income status of State proved a hurdle in State's ability to fund for state-sponsored R & D institutions. And Odisha has been tagged as an under performer in this vital sub-pillar by the Innovation Index.

In the given context, the State has naturally suffered big in scoring good in number of industrial designs, grassroots innovations, start-ups density, filing of trademark applications and patents.

Also,  the Index shows how Odisha fared poorly in manufacturing high and medium high-tech products and ICT (Information and Communication Technology) goods exports.

Other factoids: Odisha fared poor in enrolment for PhD. The quality of higher education institutions in the State is poor as the State has very few higher education institutions with UGC's NAAC (National Assessment & Accreditation Council) grade A.

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