Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called start-ups the "backbone" of the new India while interacting with young entrepreneurs and declared Jan. 16 as "National Startup Day." "Our startups are changing the rules of the game," he claimed, and he called for innovation in India and innovation from India. In related news, the new National Education Policy of 2020, which replaced the 34-year-old National Policy on Education, is keen on developing the entrepreneurial aspects of education. NEP 2020 seeks to promote the mindset of entrepreneurship and develop budding entrepreneurs at the school level by providing access to resources that will make them industry-ready.

One might ask, why this sudden thrust toward entrepreneurship and start-ups? Why does every industry, large or small, push hard to be more innovative and entrepreneurial? It is, after all, uncharted territory. Entrepreneurship is inherently linked to risk. Why would a company that is making a good profit in familiar territory venture into the unknown? The answer lies in the dynamic nature of the global marketplace. Businesses are constantly vying for maximum productivity and profit. However, in the current economic climate, it is impossible to obtain them by staying within what is familiar. Ironically, most businesses are now seeking to capitalise on new opportunities and adopting a more innovative, flexible, dynamic, and risk-taking approach to improve the financial health of their organisations in today’s fast-paced world.

Entrepreneurship can be the making of a nation, as seen in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. Along with some assistance from the governments, the entrepreneurial spirit made sure that these economies outperformed other countries. Entrepreneurship has been known to help countries bounce back from socioeconomic crises, so the claim that entrepreneurship powers the economy is not outlandish. Successful businesses bring in revenues and create job opportunities, which effectively boost a country’s economy.

The risky nature of entrepreneurship, however, remains true. For every rewarding venture, there are thousands more that fail. So, the question on everyone’s mind is how to make innovation, creativity, and growth operational. It appears that what such ventures require is more than adopting surface-level entrepreneurial principles. Rather, it demands a thorough understanding of the market, its growth, and consumer habits. Businesses must be able to anticipate trends and strategize accordingly. One needs to be attuned to environmental changes and identify opportunities when they arise. It is not enough to be opportunistic; entrepreneurs have to be innovative and creative. The decisions taken must be well-informed and growth-oriented.

Access to tools and resources is therefore imperative. Entrepreneurship requires a nurturing seedbed. Without the monetary and human capital necessary for their success, no entrepreneur can be successful. If given the opportunity, entrepreneurship has the potential to bring about changes and provide solutions to a number of social problems, especially in a young, developing nation like India. The median age in India is 28, which is significantly lower than in many prosperous countries. It is a young nation, full of potential, yet due to a lack of infrastructure, institutional mechanisms, and opportunities, most of that potential goes to waste.

Despite making major strides in development, poverty is still rampant in Indian society. It is one of the major obstacles to obtaining a formal education and, thus, a better chance at building a rewarding career and contributing to society. The rate of dropouts is exceedingly high. Unemployment is a major issue and one of the leading causes of social problems. With no productive outlet, our unemployed youth are given to depression, anxiety, and criminal and violent tendencies. There is no structure in place that can effectively utilise their energy and turn them into valuable assets for society. Empowering and transforming this section of society is a massive challenge.

For a nation’s prosperity, it is essential to harness the potential within its citizens. Therefore, the new, entrepreneur-friendly National Education Policy and the resolutions taken by the NDA government are welcome initiatives. The government is committed to setting up institutional mechanisms that promote innovation and provide necessary resources to young innovators. The Prime Minister also recognises the need to free entrepreneurship from government and bureaucratic restrictions in order to prepare the seedbed for start-ups. The seeds of entrepreneurial spirit will be sown at the school level with reforms in primary as well as higher education. The NEP 2020 seeks a more innovative, prospect-oriented education system that will further the objectives of the entrepreneurial revolution. The introduction of internships as early as sixth grade will give the students the practical exposure they need and help them become industry-ready by the time they graduate.

One can only imagine the extent of the positive transformation that will take place if all these initiatives are executed properly. Making quality education accessible and imparting entrepreneurial skills to the impoverished will empower them and allow them to sustain themselves financially. The success of start-ups will not only bring in revenue, but it will also create job opportunities, effectively reducing unemployment. The culture of innovation and creativity will also encourage educated individuals to leverage their knowledge and understanding of their ecosystem and come up with various models of entrepreneurship that can find solutions to myriad problems and bring about change for the betterment of society. The need for this is dire considering our earning potential. For India to reach the 5 to 7 trillion-dollar economic model of the government, each and every individual in the country needs to work and contribute financially towards building it.

The government is now encouraging innovation and technology-based solutions that can effectively combat the many challenges faced by our nation. Acquiring digital skills is therefore of utmost importance. Many businesses that are averse to technology find themselves struggling to cope with the fast-paced world. From communication to computation, technology has made tools available for every purpose. Using AI, automated machines, the internet, communication devices, and social media can give businesses the edge they require to pull ahead. There’s a reason why digital entrepreneurs are on the rise. The ability to understand and use technology effectively is a core and valued skill that every professional should possess. Digital skills also require regular reskilling because technology is constantly evolving. It is a tool that has to be sharpened once in a while to retain its effectiveness.