What could state governments do to galvanize creative societal energy for larger good
More and more action initiatives will have to be taken at state level for harnessing innovative and inclusive energy of youth and others. When do great institutions, cultures and civilizations start declining? When they become complacent, develop deep inertia and become indifferent or sometimes contemptuous of new ideas, innovations and initiatives. When this happens, creative people stop talking about their new ideas openly, they keep to themselves and often don’t even own their ideas boldly. Such a sign is an indication that the specific society, institutions, organizations and social groups have started courting inertia instead of innovations.
Bottom up action steps such as illustrated here may make a small difference:
One of the most serious stress point is agriculture and allied sectors in which productivity is declining, cost is increasing, in situ value addition is still far way off, and most start-ups are urban based even those which address rural needs. The online filling up of forms and applying for converting their ideas into an enterprise is almost impossible for majority of grassroots innovators. Yet most state government rely on such means for seeking such innovators and entrepreneurs. Way back in 1997, when GIAN was set up by the Honey Bee Network in collaboration with Gujarat government, IIMA and SRISTI to link innovations ( formal/informal; from and for grassroots with investment (financial, social, mentoring, policy) and enterprises (social, economic, cultural, ecological and other for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurs). Can similar platform be created in each state to provide handholding support at the doorstep of the innovators and creative communities.
How to find such innovators-can we motivate school and college students during summer vacation to look for odd balls and reward them not only for their own creative ideas but also that of others.
LBSNAA has recently launched a very important portal called as LINK (LBSNAA Innovation Network) to map unmet administrative, social and other needs and seek solutions for them from anyone, everyone. At long last, the young officer trainees have decided to become more accountable for seeking unmet needs and also match these with extremely affordable and accessible solutions. Each state can create similar platforms at district and state level and mobilize the students, faculty and any other trader, entrepreneur, professional, farmer/artisans through village panchayats or directly to address these needs urgently. A district Innovation Fund was created by 13th finance commission, and may be this fund can be used to seed fund the bottom up ideas for solving problems and upload these on LINK so that other regions facing similar problems can use these as such or as analogical pathways. There is a huge inertia which has persisted over decades and is evident in the sufferings of farmers, workers and other poor people.
There has to be very dynamic and sustained interaction among children and college students with the unmet social needs. Once the younger generation becomes impatient with problems unsolved so long, they will grow into more empathetic leaders in future less concerned with narrow identities of caste, regionalism and religious beliefs. Low productivity in farm or horticulture farms affect people of all faith equally and thus inclusive identities are needed.
Open source multi-media, multi-language content must be delivered to each government school and college in a timebound manner so that even if teachers lack interest in some schools, children can learn on their own through phone based applications or uploads.
One wall of each school and public building must be painted by a local folk artists and local mechanics may be trained to teach children working with their own hands.
There are a large number of public domain innovations like plant varieties, low cost herbal pesticides or water management practices, which are not yet taken up for on farm validation in each block. Once found useful, these may be certified for formal promotion through radio, TV and other extension systems.
Social enterprises, SHG based horizontal trade (one group buying products of another) and agile risk funds at district and block level to invest in local ideas are the need of the hour. May be each CM should have an inclusive Innovation Cell in her/his office to coordinate various innovation based initiatives. Will they do that, let the time tell.