Is modernization another slogan or real actions of the state?


    Many people in our country think and write about innovation, modernization and technological progress. Some are nostalgic about the loss of all Soviet developments in the scientific and industrial fields, others sincerely believe that there is still a little work to do and finally a successful Russian company with a super-product will shoot, while others believe that we should leave “this country as soon as possible” "Where everything is only getting worse.

    For several years now, the political elite has been constantly talking about modernization and the innovative path of development. But for some reason, our country remains the "raw materials appendage" of the West. What are the true reasons for not moving onto the rails of modernization? And does the state really see the prospect of modernization or is it another political slogan? To find the answers, we need to understand whether modernization and innovation is really what we want, and we need to see how the state really organizes the system of innovative development.

    Culture and heritage.

    Throughout history, our country has been and, unfortunately, still remains catching up on the issue of technological development. And in tsarist times and under the Soviet Union, we actively caught up with the West, but never exceeded. It should be noted that all periods of technological leaps in one way or another were associated with harsh government intervention in this area. This suggests that the population itself never formed a demand for new technologies. There has always been a significant number of talented scientists among the Russians, and often their work has remained unclaimed at all levels of society: at the enterprise, institutional and state levels.


    In this aspect, the results of the study look very interesting.Argentine sociologist Mariano Grondon. In his research, he determined the correlation between the type of society and the social and technological results of the life of this society. Some conclusions from his work:
    • “Work in a culture that encourages innovation is a moral and social duty, the main form of expression and a source of satisfaction. In a culture opposed to progress, this is a burden, a necessary evil; real pleasure and satisfaction can only be obtained outside the workplace. ”
    • “Dissent or disagreement is critical to progress, reform, and the search for truth in a culture that encourages innovation. In a culture opposed to progress, a dissident is a criminal threatening stability and cohesion. ”
    • “And finally, wealth. In a culture of innovation, it is a product of personal initiative and human endeavor. In a culture that opposes progress, it is a natural or material resource, and life is a struggle for mastering it or redistributing it. ”

    In other words, in cultures in which innovation and modernization are encouraged, people have a completely different attitude to work, alternative opinion and wealth. Unfortunately, I can state, basing on my own life experience, that in Russia the inverse relation to these factors is more prevalent than in societies with a progressive culture. That is why all technological breakthroughs have occurred and, apparently, will occur only with the direct and serious participation of the state, which will meet natural resistance among many people. But here another problem arises - people who become the head of state do not fly to us from the moon, they lived and developed in the same sociocultural environment as the rest of the population, this leads to the fact that the state, as a management apparatus as a whole, also resists modernization and innovation. Consequently, policy statements by the President and other politicians on the topic of modernization can be considered personal initiatives that do not reflect the true demands of the political and economic elite.

    Modernization as a system

    All countries that made technological and economic breakthroughs, one way or another, built an effective system of development and commercialization of scientific developments within the country. Recently, a number of prominent Russian scientists proposed the basis for the Russian innovation system .

    The main ideas of the proposed system are: full integration with the world scientific community, up to transferring the function of project expertise to foreign specialists, the function of accepting projects is transferred from officials to prominent scientists, the formation of a Council for Science under the Government, support for small scientific research, changing the remuneration system - translation her to a multistage level with high pay. In my opinion, the proposed system as a whole is viable and effective, and its adoption would be the first step in the absolutely right direction. Naturally, the main stumbling block will be the mechanisms of money distribution. Since this system involves transferring the funding function to scientists with quarterly reports to the Government,

    In addition to building a system of internal creation of innovations, it is also necessary to create conditions for the entry of foreign specialists: engineers, researchers, designers, managers, etc. “Now about 150,000 foreign specialists work in Russia. Both themselves and their employers consider immigration law a significant obstacle to attracting foreigners. “Often, in territorial administrations related to the migration of departments, high-class engineers are treated the same way as masons and concrete workers from Central Asia <...> Because of bureaucracy, many simply lose their desire to work in our country,” says the First Vice Speaker of the Federation Council Alexander Torshin. "Of course, the Government is unlikely to quickly improve the standard of living,

    The influence of foreign specialists, in particular managers, was studied by American economists Ariel Burstein and Alex Monge. According to their estimates, the removal of barriers in attracting foreign managers leads to a 12% increase in GDP - much more than an increase in GDP from foreign investment.


    The full creation and functioning of an innovation system within such a huge state as Russia, as noted above, requires enormous work and attention from the state, business and the whole society. President Medvedev, starting with the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum in 2008, constantly talks about the need to modernize the economy. In addition, in January 2010, Kudrin, Chubais, Gref and other prominent figures traveled to MIT(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in the USA for a workshop on innovation. They returned inspired. This can be considered a sign that the state is gradually preparing for serious political steps in the direction of modernization and technological development. Moreover, immediately after their return, strong statements began on the topic of creating their Silicon Valley in Russia.

    Relatively recently (February 16, 2010) it was announcedthat "Prime Minister Vladimir Putin" personally headed "the government commission on high technology and innovation. In early February, a new department appeared in the government apparatus - science, high technology and education, which will deal with the organizational support of the commission. On February 3, he was headed by former Deputy Minister of Education Alexander Khlunov. The department will employ 23 people (this is almost the minimum by the standards of the White House), the functions of the departments of culture and education and the defense industry have been partially transferred to it. ” With such an influential participation and control, it is quite possible to expect certain organizational shifts from the state in the field of modernization. And just the other day it was announced that the Russian Silicon Valley will be located in Skolkovo near Moscow. Naturally it's hard to say now whether this is the first step on the part of the state towards organizing modernization in the country, or is it the creation of “appearance of work” in the face of a falling level of confidence in the ruling authorities and preparation for the 2012 elections. After all, the topic of modernization and promotion of small business is essentially working with a liberal-minded part of the electorate.

    Innovation Financing

    After organizational issues, financing issues always arise. We always have funding, but for some reason there is little return.

    Consider the real amount of society’s costs for modernization and new developments . “The state will allocate 159 billion rubles this year to finance civilian research and development. ($ 5.4 billion) is about 0.37% of GDP, or 0.94% of the consolidated budget. Russian entrepreneurs are even more reluctant to invest in innovation: private investment in R&D is about a quarter of the total. For comparison: in 2008 the Chinese government spent $ 67 billion on research and development — about 2% of GDP, local business invested $ 142.4 billion in development (68% of total investment). ”

    That is, at the moment we have such a picture that development funding is insufficient, moreover, the effectiveness of these investments is not clear and it cannot be ruled out that it is also at a low level, which again emphasizes that at the moment modernization and technological development remain a beautiful dream.

    Divergence of words with deed

    In practice, unfortunately, the actions of the Government often contradict the stated theses on modernization.


    An example is Russia's recent signing of some economic treaties with China., the essence of which is that China will begin exporting natural resources from Siberia and the Far East with commitments to purchase for many years to come, while all processing plants (places where added value is created) will be built in China. China and Russia will jointly finance the construction of these enterprises. In other words, China receives guarantees on the supply of necessary resources, builds factories with the participation of Russia, and this also increases employment and technological development of the region, Russia receives diversification of supplies and money. And all this against the background of statements about the need to develop the economy of the eastern regions of the country, including demographic problems. Plus, we are strengthening cooperation (in other words, we are training the Chinese) in the fields of nuclear energy and cosmonautics. The Chinese have already learned how to make our own weapons, arms exports to China are declining every year, our last competitive industries remain - atom and space, the achievements in which our Government for some reason also plans to "sell" to fast-growing China. All this, of course, raises doubts about the real wishes of the country's leadership to modernize the economy.


    Unfortunately, the socio-cultural conditions in our country do not contribute to the need for progress in society. Plus, at the moment, the state has done practically nothing but a discussion on the topic of modernization. This also applies to building an innovation system, and migration laws, and financing. Moreover, a series of actions, for example, cooperation with China, contradicts the declared slogans on the modernization of the entire economy. But at the same time, it should be noted that right now signs of readiness to deal closely with technical re-equipment began to appear. The seriousness of intent is emphasized by the involvement of the President and the Prime Minister and the involvement of specialists from the West. Now our state faces a doubly difficult task: not only to create and maintain an innovative development model, protecting it from corruption,

    I invite everyone to a discussion on this topic in the comments.

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