Mobilizing and Diffusing Creative Ideas through railways


Mobilizing and Diffusing Creative Ideas through railways


Harnessing the minds of masses is necessary if the decade of innovation has to have a practical meaning for millions of people. It is estimated that at least 20 million people travel by train every day. Most trains, particularly for long distance also have public address system. In any case, establishing such systems in certain trains for this purpose may not be too difficult.


a. To disseminate a few creative ideas every day to inspire and instigate the imagination of the commuters.

b. To provoke them to suggest new ideas for new products or services or improvement in existing products or services.

c. To encourage them to submit ideas on which they have already done some work and would like incubation support for the same if found suitable.

d. To document outstanding, functional traditional knowledge practices which might be well known in one context but may be innovative in another spatial or sectoral context.



I.            Each station will have new idea and improvement in existing idea boxes.            Posters on these boxes will invite the commuters to share their ideas along with their name, occupational background, education, permanent address, phone number, and email address if any.

II.            Those who send their ideas through sms/email on a given toll free number would be sent the final selected ideas within 24 hrs., so that the credibility of the system gets built and more people get encouraged to send their ideas through sms/email. The paper ideas will get response within a month.

III. Announcements will be made in the train having PA system to encourage commuters to give their innovative ideas in the field of technology,services, or governance through various means such as idea boxes in the train as well as on the station, sms, email and post.            A post box number will be created so that all the ideas are received, processed and results given within pre-defined time periods.

IV.            It should also be possible to share the awarded ideas and the action thereon in the newspapers through monthly advertisements via DAVP.            If number of ideas become too large, then the results will be announced every three or six months. The action taken on these ideas will also be shared. It is not necessary that all the awarded ideas will have to be acted upon by the NInC or affiliated bodies.

V.            A panel of experts and innovators will be constituted in each region to process the ideas regionally as well as centrally as the case may be. The BPO units can be asked to input paper data quickly and put it on secure server for panel members to access and rank in a distributed manner. We can involve students from IITs and IIMs also in this process apart from the team of NIF for grassroots ideas.

VI.            The decision of the jury will be final and no correspondence will be entertained with regard to the merit of the ideas. However, selected ideas considered worthy for awards or special mention will be shown on the web and disseminate it through mobiles to create wider awareness about the process. Annually, a stock will be taken as to how many ideas scouted in this process have been incubated and taken to the next stage. The effectiveness of the campaign will be judged by the outcomes of the incubation process. The awards for those ideas or innovations on which some proof of concept has already been developed, will be bigger than the awards for just the ideas.

VII.            The intellectual property rights will be protected for the ideas that have been reduced to practice in one form or the other. Other ideas can be protected in the idea bank which can be created for the purpose.

VIII.            All those ideas on which quick prior art reveals prior evidence, will not be considered any further. Only ideas found unique, distinctive, cost effective, and operational will be considered for the award.            Utopian ideas such as linked to teleporting or perpetual motion machines will not be considered at all. The awards will vary for different categories such as [a] from informal, unorganised sector, the one with which NIF deals with, [b] students, school children (NIF includes them) and college students (which deals with); [c] individual professionals or trained minds or employees of private or public sector and [d] unattached individuals with some education but having access to modern institutions, resources, housewives (urban or rural attached to well off section or educated segment to be distinguished form grassroots informal who will come in segment ‘a’)



A.            Detailed budget can be developed once the idea is approved and scale can be finalized. Whether we want to begin with only long distance trains or also include the short distance ones will be one of the decision points.

B.            The items of budget include advertisements, posters, idea boxes, rental to railways, data entry and processing through panels of experts and students, award money, announcement for awards, incubation of ideas, prototype development, IPR protection, design input, testing, market research, and launch through third party entrepreneurs or by the idea generators themselves.


The outcome will be a changed mind-set, spread of optimistic outlook towards the state and its institutions and hopefully more inclusive products, services and governance structures. Much will depend upon the seriousness and thoroughness with which good ideas are taken forward in a transparent and accountable manner.

Anil K Gupta