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[CHENNAI] India lags behind Brazil and China in innovation capacity but fares better in the quality of its scientific research institutions, according to the 2009–10 Global Competitiveness Report released by the World Economic Forum this month (8 September).

India is placed thirty-fifth out of 133 countries — behind China at 22 and Brazil at 28 — for innovation capacity. Within South Asia, India is ranked first, followed by Sri Lanka ranked at 49 and Pakistan at 56, the report says.

Germany, Japan and Switzerland are the top three innovators overall.

India fares better in quality of scientific research institutions, ranked at 25 — ahead of China at 35 and Brazil at 41. Here, Israel, Switzerland and the United States occupy the top three slots.

These two key science indicators are part of a package of 12 development indicators that ranks countries according to a global competitiveness index (GCI).

The report highlights India's "reverse development pattern". The subcontinent has climbed up one place in the comparative growth ladder — and "ranks an outstanding 28th in the most complex areas measured by the business sophistication and innovation sub-index ahead of several advanced economies" — but a wide gap between rural India and the rest of the country's thriving economic and technological hubs remains. Computer and telephone penetration is also still low.

China "outperforms the other BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, China] economies", the report says. But striking a cautionary note, the report says the country has "shortcomings in higher education and technological readiness" while "India hosts some of the best universities in the world, and a number of Indian corporate giants have become major global players or even leaders in their fields".

Elsewhere, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a large network of Indian business associations, released a report on India's information technology potential this month (11 September). CII predicts the subcontinent will witness a five-fold rise to 75 million computers by 2010.

Sachin Pilot, India's minister for communication and information technology, told Connect-2009 — India's top ICT conference — that the government plans to network 5,000 research and 20,000 higher education institutions to share content and infrastructure. He said the project would be launched soon but was unable to confirm the date and allocated budget.