Promoting innovations, social inclusion and industrial relevance in technical education


Promoting innovations, social inclusion and industrial relevance in technical education

A review of over 100,000 projects done by 350,000 students from 500 institutions at, an imitative of SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions) shows tremendous talent that our young technology students have in the country.   By not tracking this talent and steering it in the right direction, we are missing out on a huge possibility of solving a large number of problems of MSME and informal sector in near term.  We cannot afford to do so any more.  Hence, this appeal to create, converge and connect the talent of the students with the unsolved problems of small entrepreneurs, farmers, artisans, tribal communities, slum dwellers and other stakeholders.

Several steps are involved in achieving the goal of connecting young creative minds with the society at large:

a.    Pooling the existing projects done by the students at a common platform of each university and also pooling it in a national database at

b.    Scouting the problems of small scale industries and informal sector, local communities, etc., through industrial Shodhyatras.

c.    Providing credits for identifying the problems, benchmarking them and developing a synoptic plan of work.

d.    Providing credit for solving the problems but if unsuccessful, credit should still be given for failing despite best effort.  Else, nobody will take up risky problems.  The entrepreneurial attitude will never develop.

e.    Those who finish one project much before the time should have the opportunity to take second project and get extra credit.

f.     Explore the possibility of creating at least three funds to support projects where feasible and desirable, file patents and invest in student led businesses.

g.    Offer challenge awards for persistently unsolved problems such as in-situ value addition to the forest produce in the absence of which the deprivation and alienation of tribal communities cannot be checked.

h.    Awards at the university level as well as national level by respective technical universities and jointly by CIPS [Centre for Innovation in Public Systems] and SRISTI through

i.      Invite industry to outsource complex problems in a modular manner to the technology students and give incentives for best effort and performance.  In due course, the recruitment costs of the companies will come down and the market for merit will become stronger.  Many small institutions may have gifted teachers and thus outstanding project quality.

j.     The challenges in the public systems where design, delivery and distribution has to be improved to increase citizen satisfaction can be posed to technology and other disciplinary students.

k.    The students from commerce, management and other social sciences, arts, etc., can not only help in scouting innovations in public, private and civil society sectors but also help in developing business plans, social diffusion strategies and other ways of improving the connect between demand and supply.


Key outcomes of the proposed process:

The knowledge network around technology and other disciplines making it obligatory for every student to submit his project to a common repository and upload the abstracts before the grant of degree or diploma will create tremendous incentives for originality, innovation, collaboration and relevance.

The key outcomes of linkage with can be:

      i.        Promotion of originality among technology students by making it impossible for them  to do what has been done before. This will be possible only when they can find out what has been done before.

    ii.        Connecting the technical students with the problems of informal and unorganized sector and grassroots innovators

   iii.        Putting the technical problems of MSMEs on the agenda of students so that affordable solutions can be generated in a real time.

   iv.        To harness collaborative potential of students across disciplines and colleges to solve persistent problems of our country in formal and informal sector

    v.        Explore kho kho model (relay) of product development. Idea here is that if one student group has brought the solution of a particular problem to a specific stage, then next group within that department or somewhere else should be able to build upon it to take it forward.

   vi.        To pose challenges to students to address unsolved problems of our society. Gandhiji had announced an award of 7700 pounds, (approx Rs one lac) to redesign charkha-spinning wheel. Today the value of this prize will be more than Rs10 crores.  Industry association, government and others can offer attractive prizes for solving those problems which have remained unsolved so long.

  vii.        Developing high tech capabilities through network platforms so that India becomes a hub for high tech outsourcing for the world in future and does not serve only the low tech needs.

viii.        Promoting both IPR protected and open source technologies and eventually develop into an online virtual incubator.

   ix.        Creating real-time online NMN (National Mentoring Network) to harness skills, insights and experience of senior tech experts for mentoring young students.

Anil K Gupta