This evening I went along to the Royal Museum of Art and History to listen to Sam Pitroda delivering one of The Economist’s Innovation Lectures. The event, chaired by European Voice editor Tim King, was both fascinating and richly entertaining. Indian in origin, resident in America for a large part of his life and a veteran globetrotter, Pitroda is described as an inventor, an entrepreneur, a government advisor and a policy maker. His chosen theme was the Indian government’s ‘Decade of Innovation 2010-2020’ policy. Pitroda was deeply involved in developing the policy and is now part of an advisory board overseeing its implementation. I can perhaps best give a taste of his almost aphoristic style by repeating some of my notes (his slide show is here). India faces three challenges: disparity, demography and development. India has 550 million people under the age of 25. When you have a billion people you are bound to have 10 million bright ones. Everything we do today is essentially obsolete. We see IT and telecom as instruments of nation building. India is a nation of 1 billion connected people. There are 750 million mobile phones in India. The best brains in the world have been solving the problems of the rich, who do not have problems to solve. Indians invented the zero and the decimal system. India had two universities (Nalanda and Takshita), complete with dormitories and campuses, 2,700 years ago. Focus at the edge. Ignorance is a great asset. Twenty-five million Indians live outside India. Almost all US companies have R&D companies in India. What came across the most to me was an impression of the vast potential of the sub-continent, the indefatigable optimism of Pitroda himself and the way in which IT developments will surely change basic and so far unchallenged concepts about democracy and economics.