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Creativity or ethnicity? Innovation or invention?

- By Dwaipayan, 31 December 2020 | 5 MIN READ


The notion that some people are creative, and some are not is absolutely rubbish. There might be variations in the level of creativity and type of creativity given by their conditions; but to assume some culture, ethnicity lacks creativity looks like racial stereotyping versus any factual data.

“Creativity” typically fall into two big buckets - innovation and invention. Understand the terms, innovation is creating something different from something that already exists, and invention is making something that did not exist before.

The invention of phonograph in 1877 by Edison was a breakthrough. Before then music could only be heard live. Now, innovations that were created from the phonograph were - tape recorder, CD player, Walkman, etc. Steve Job’s Apple never invented any new technology, but it just updated existing technology. Interestingly often the innovations can be more successful in business economics than that of the original invention. Creativity originates from people who work very hard to understand the fundamentals extremely well and then improvise this to extend the field by a tiny amount.

All of us can learn to be creative at something or the other with sufficient effort. Most of us do badly because we’re unable or unwilling to put in that effort and not because there is some inherent deficit in them. Creative people usually have great mentors and extremely talented peers with whom they often interact/collaborate.

When we talk about China, they have a fair share of smart and hard-working people. So, it is quite 'creative' and will get more so over time as young people with potential get a larger pool of 'creative' mentors to guide them and the country gets the resources to build and fund multiple institutions of excellence.

According to McKinsey world’s leading business consultants, China is a leader in efficiency-driven manufacturing innovation. It has come to be the world’s factory because it can manufacture goods very competently and inexpensively.

In another ground-breaking innovation, China created a TaihuLight supercomputer when unable to buy US manufactured supercomputer chips (Intel Xeon) due to US government laws; TaihuLight runs entirely on Chinese hardware and is technically 7 times faster than the fastest US supercomputer.

China contributed to the world with some priceless inventions. Paper and ironically gunpowder was first invented in China. China first learnt to use tea. Have ancient Chinese are highly creative, one may wonder but now there are more Chinese patents than those from US. there are more references to academic research papers written by Chinese than those written by the US or Europeans. And all these because they are hardworking people. They dominate the world in a surprising number of technologies, like Speech Recognition, Graphemics, Thorium power, Pebble Bed Reactors, Genomics, Thermal Power generation, Supercomputing, Quantum Encrypted Communication Networks, ASW Missiles, Naval Guns, Passive Array Radar, Metamaterials, Hyperspectral Imaging, Nanotechnology, UHV Electricity transmission, Electric Vehicles, In-Space Refueling, High-Speed Rail, Satellite Quantum Communications.

So, do you have it in you? It’s not just about ethnicity, it’s about appetite to pull things out of thin air. Build something from nothing. Explore beyond what surrounds you and come up with a new element that did not previously exist.

This aptitude is the definition of creativity and relates to your imagination, your hard work and intelligence, and your capacity for inventiveness.

You need two basic things to awaken your ability to create. The first is to collect all your ingredients (what you see, what you experience, what you ideate mixed vigorously into your own thinking and your own perspective) and be willing to work hard, to push yourself, to perceive, to notice, to question, to challenge what already exists, maybe to swim against the current if you find that you have to.

Creativity is inherent to humans. It's inside you, furled and waiting. Courage and hard work are up to you.


P.S However, creativity is not that all about what you think, an American or Chinese city dweller can drop into the Tundras or the Amazon Rainforest and survive with all their “creativity” better than an illiterate native who grew up there, you would be sadly mistaken.




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