The Gandhian Young Technological Innovation Awards set up by SRISTI and Honey Bee Network have created new points of reference for recognizing technological excellence imbued with social relevance among students. We received 2915 entries in 54 technology domains from 312 universities & institutes belonging to 34 states & Union Territories.
Fifteen BIRAC-SRISTI GYTI student awardees get Rs 15 lac research grant each to bid for bigger grants soon after and set up their enterprises. Others awardees who could not get financial award this time are also encouraged to pursue their dreams relentlessly. Those who have made distinctive contribution and are being appreciated are no less important part of innovation ecosystem. I hope in due course, we will perhaps find more public and private sponsors to support as many students as possible. It is these young innovation champions who are expected to being about transformation in the developmental status of our country mediated by empathetic science and technology.
Some of the key challenges before GYTI awardees and appreciated scholars or fellows are:
a) The should visit each other, foster collaboration across institutional and disciplinary boundaries and give feedback to each other to improve translational prospects of respective technologies.
b) The inclusive development requires meeting the unmet social needs of disadvantaged communities in ‘aspirational districts’, and other regions where the level of economic development has remained low. It also requires leveraging peoples knowledge system for developing most frugal, affordable, and sustainable innovative products and services.
c) GYTI fellows should recruit younger students from schools and even outside to be inducted in the curiosity driven world of translational research.
d) Many of the GYTI awardees go for post-doc research abroad to improve their career prospects on coming back in India. Unless we change an informal requirement of such post doc abroad for faculty appointments in elite tech institutions, this disruption in translational research will remain. May be for GYTI awardees such requirement may be waived.
e) Access to each other’s lab will also help strengthen the innovation eco-system. Ideally, each public sector lab should put up all the equipment and services available to young innovators at a nominal charge on its website. There is a gross under-utilization of such facilities across the country.
f) The share of women scholars is still low and needs considerable improvement to make the ecosystem more gender-accommodative and appreciative. SRISTI has also announced a women-only Biotechnological Innovation Ignition School (BIIS) where around 45 students from around the country validate and value add in the grassroots innovations ( April 29-May 28).
g) The involvement of younger scholars in research team is very important to ensure continuity, and this need to be at one place but can be through a relay process.
h) Uploading abstracts of student projects at techpedia.sristi.in which already has information about 200,000 engineering and other tech projects regularly is a big challenge. For a young student wanting to be original and innovative, it is not possible to go to thousands of institutional websites to find out what has been done by whom where and how can that work be taken forward. Techpedia.sristi.org database encourages relay or kho-kho model of technology development so that the whole country becomes a single lab.
i) Fostering Connection between high tech research and grassroots innovation system is one of the key purposes of having GYTI award function at FINE. National Innovation Foundation-India (nifindia.org) encourages students and scholars to join hands in blending formal and in formal S&T, and hopefully many awardees this year will take up some voluntary projects to strengthen Indian aspiration to become global leader of sustainable, frugal and extremely affordable solutions for the whole world, preferably made available in open source.
j) GIAN.org also wishes to leverage such linkages particularly in western India. It particularly seeks cooperation in validating and value adding food and nutritional knowledge of grandmothers. Widespread malnutrition among infants and in many cases mothers need innovative solutions.
k) Teachers, research assistants, lab attendants, mechanics maintaining lab and workshop equipments, glass blowers designing glassware in lab, and all others involved in facilitating science and technology pursuits innovate. We wish to recognize such silent contributors also. GYTI participants and winners have to help in scouting such lab and workshop floor innovators in coming years.