When honourable President Shri Pranab Mukherjee recognizes and celebrates the creativity of children on Nov 30, 2015 at IIMA, he will once again underline his deep faith in the innovative potential of younger generation. National Innovation Foundation announced the winner sof this year’s winners on Oct 15, the birthday of Dr A P J Abdul Kalam celebrated as children creativity and innovation day. That’s why, we have renamed the awards after Dr. Kalam and who could have done justice to his legacy but the President because of extraordinary level to which inclusive innovation movement has been taken to. For the last two years, Innovation Scholar in Residence program, probably first time in the world, provides for ten children, college students and grassroots innovators to stay at the Rashtrapati Bhavan as the guest of The President of India. Who would have imagined such a warm signal to the youth and grassroots innovators that their creativity matters, their ideas will get traction and their voice will get velocity and visibility at the highest level.
What is the point the leaders of the country are trying to make?
The cultural traditions which produced excellence in design, architecture, materials, mathematics, philosophical discourses etc., have to be rejuvenated.
This will not happen by gloating in the glory of the past. But by adopting new cultural codes of creativity, compassion and collaboration. Many children this year have been influenced by the problems faced by elderly, women or other disadvantaged people and not just they themselves. If some body has a fracture in hand, holding hand in a sling hanging around neck is the conventional way. Useful and effective but Adi .suggested that having a sling tied to waist could be another way, may be more comfortable way. Why get used to only one way of doing things. From Bastar, Chhatisgarh, a student Bharat saw the plight of tendu patta collectors, generally tribal women. We of course don’t endorse or encourage smoking at all,. But this leaf can also be used for medicinal purposes. He suggested a device to be developed to pluck the leaves without bending downwards and straining the back-a problem similar to that of women workers who bend down to transplant paddy seedlings. Not living with problems unsolved indefinitely is the basic quality of a civilised society, I asserted at the Convocation address of IIT BHU today.
If every school encourages children and young students to inventories the unmet social needs in their neighbourhood, the character fo this country will change for ever.
Even if they can not solve every problem, they will start thinking about them. Sometimes their ideas will actually work as the Honey Bee Network has shown so many times. The modifed walker by Shalini, crutches by Anita konwar, waste plucker by Malviya brothers, converting dot matric printer into braille printer are just some of the examples of ideas by children leading to development of new products by NIF team. Children can be, as I have stressed repeatedly, not sink of sermons but alsosource of ideas. We need to view the potential of our children differently. We need ot raise our expectations from them. In fact greatest disservice we do to them is by expecting less from them, leading to their achieving even less. An inclusive India will give anew model of designing inclusive innovation ecosystem in which children will be a major part. Soon, NIF will be harnessing the creativity of students of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) who have been ignored for so long. Ten thousand ITIs provide the basic shop-floor workers for our industries-small or big and also can be the harbinger of grassroots up start up revolution in villages and cities.
Department of Science and Technology, GOI has recognized their creative potential and policies are underway which might empower them in a way never tried in the last 67 years. Many new vistas remain to be explored in mobilizing young minds for changing the culture of “chalta hai” to “chalna hai, parivartan karna hai” (we don’t have to tolerate mediocrity, but we have to move and move to change the destiny).