MSME minister Nitin Gadkari
MSME minister Nitin Gadkari

To overcome India’s dependence on imports, the Government of India on Wednesday launched a new program ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat ARISE-ANIC’ in collaboration with Niti Aayog, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), and several ministries to support research and innovation among Indian startups and MSMEs.

Isro, ministries of defense, health and family welfare, housing and urban affairs, and food processing industries are participants in the ARISE-ANIC (Applied Research and Innovation In Small Enterprises-Atal New India Challenges) program.
A total of 15 sector-specific challenges have been selected, where three challenges have been kept for each ministry.

A grant-of-aid of up Rs 50 lakh for a period of 9 to 12 months has been earmarked for startups to develop a minimum usable prototype.
During the launch of the program, Isro chairman K Sivan said, “This flagship program will promote innovations and entrepreneurship across the length and breadth of our country. Isro has extensively supported MSMEs and has also set up R&D labs across India to promote innovation and research in space science and technology. We have identified three thrust areas that have immense potential for the national space program: First propulsion area, which involves green propellants, electric propulsion, and advanced air-breathing; second, geo-spatial information using artificial intelligence for crop-monitoring, weather forecasting and program evaluation; and third in AI and robotics for supporting space exploration and outer space monitoring.”

Sivan also said that Isro is planning to adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Labs, 3 each in each state and UTs, to encourage innovation from youth and students.
Defining the objective of the program, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, “One of the major reasons why we are not able to create great products in India is because ministries do not become the first buyers of startups (products). Other than Isro, Indian departments and large companies never encourage and promote young startups, which have done unique work. This mission will be able to break new grounds in helping and collaborating with startups and promoting innovations. For this program to succeed, the government must become the first buyer. India’s large domestic market can provide a springboard to these new products.”

“I request Niti Aayog to formulate a digitized system where the decision-making process related to a program can be completed in 15-20 days. We need to remove speed-breakers in government programs. We have to stop corrupt people in the system and encourage good people in the system.” MSME minister Nitin Gadkari said,

MSME minister Nitin Gadkari quoted PM Narendra Modi as saying, “Science should help to solve the socio-economic problems of common people…. extend (scientific) research from labs to the land…”

He also said, “Government officials are not willing to adopt new technologies because they fear that if something goes wrong, they will be held accountable and punished. If you do something new, you are bound to commit mistakes. Therefore Niti Aayog should formulate a system where those who commit bona fide mistakes are pardoned and those making mala fide mistakes are only held accountable.”