Festival of Innovation: an ode to odd balls


Festival of  Innovation: an ode to odd balls

Indian society is celebrating the power of grassroots politics, purposeful innovations and pursuit of inclusive development through an entrepreneurial upsurge. There are not many countries in the world where creative and innovative school and college students and grassroots innovators are invited to stay at the President’s house to get mentored and inspired in their innovation journey. Ten such innovators will be welcomed at the Presidents house on 7  March 2015, for a two week stay.The office of the President has decided to celebrate the week of March 7-13 asa Festival of Innovation. For the last five years, it used to be only an innovation exhibition accompanied by biennialawards. The Innovation Scholar in Residence programme was started on December11, 2013, the birthday of The President Shri Pranab Mukherjee. NationalInnovation Foundation and other volunteers of Honey Bee Network provide back up support in these activities.

For an innovator from remote corners of the country, the opportunity to  showcase their ideas at Rashtrapati Bhawan isa dream come true. A message, that the country cares about the solutions developed by common people, inspires many more people to make similar efforts to overcome inertia.

This year apart from The Eight Biennial Presidential awards for the grassroots innovations, they will also be Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards for engineering/biotech students on March 8, 2015.

There will bea meeting of National Innovation Club chapters from central universities, NITs,besides Unnat Bharat groups at IITs, etc.  These clubs can be started in any college tosearch, spread and celebrate innovations and sense the unmet social needs.  It will be difficult for youth and others to ignore the persistent problems of small entrepreneurs, village communities, tribals, and other small vendors and fabricators once an inventory of  unmet social and entrepreneurial needs get listed for the entire country. The medical and biotech innovations having grassroots applications will be showcased for an inclusive affordable and sustainable healthcare. Innovations for Make in India, Adarsh gram and CleanIndia will be particularly showcased to give a boost to the country’s determination for a self-reliant developmental journey. Banking sector plays an important role in shaping the country’s economy. The festival will conclude with a consultation among the top banking leaders on creating a compassionate and supportive innovation financing ecosystem.

The corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, supply chain leaders and other stakeholders are welcome to join hands with the innovators to facilitate faster transition of their ideas into viable products and services. The diffusion of innovation through market as well as social channels will eventually determine the impact made by the Festival of Innovation. The inspirational value for the visitors isof no less consequence. The faster we overcome our persistent inertia, better will be the prospect of Indian developmental story.

There is considerable need to refocus entitlement based programs like Rural Employment Guarantee scheme which had deskilled the society in an unprecedented manner. We need to move towards a culture which  eliminates the very concept of ‘unskilled’ labour from the developmental lexicon of every civilised society. Every body has some skill for which market may or may not exist. Challenge is to upgrade such skills where necessary but not to neglect the existing skills. It is likely that forthcoming budget will place a heavy stress on distributed and decentralised bottom-up entrepreneurial approach to development. Such an approach will require faster and continuous learning in the society.  Through in-situ incubation process, every village can have social and economic entrepreneurial initiatives. Not all such ventures will succeed but then without courting failure,can we ever bring about a risk-taking culture in our country. Celebrating glorious failures will embolden the youth to take more risk and try to meet those social unmet needs which have remained unserviced for a long time. CleanIndia mission itself is likely to trigger a huge entrepreneurial upsurge as will Unnat Bharat mission too. There is a need for fundamental restructuring of rural development and other such ministries to liberate them from World Bank inspired obsolete developmental jargons and mindsets. Unless village panchayats are encouraged to partner with  local social and economic innovators and/or entrepreneurs to provide various services for community development, we will neither be able to remove corruption nor achieve accountability and efficiency. Each panchayat should a have social innovation and micro venture innovation fund and create a healthy competition as well as  collaboration among creative youth and others.  Let all investments be put up on a notice board and website to ensure hundred per cent transparency. Only then will the spirit of  the Festival ofInnovation permeate each corner of the country.



Visiting Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad & IIT Bombay and an independent thinker, activist for the cause of creative communities and individuals at grassroots, tech institutions and any other walk of life committed to make this world a more creative, compassionate and collaborative place