Sankranti : a time to let seasons change, dreams kites fly


If we had our way, we will all live in an yesterday land, and that too not just any ‘yesterday’ but the one that we liked the most. But Sankranti/Pongal  festival tells us that seasons must change and there is no season which stays forever. Thank god that it does not. Will life be any beautiful without uncertainty? If I knew what is in store tomorrow, will I look forward to that with hope and if possible some faith?

Let me twist this argument a bit. Many times, when we meet people who have enormous hope, a great deal of zest and appetite for uncertainty, adventure and surprises in life, we find them highly tolerant of ambiguity. They would not be able to do what they do if they insisted on full clarity on starting anything new. Can I hope that in the coming year, all of us will take initiatives about the matters we feel very strongly about with hazy horizon, unclear details and in some cases, intimidating uncertainty?

There are so many grassroots innovators in education, farming and small industry who do this with gusto and thus are able to make a lasting impact on their environment, no matter how so ever small or scattered. But most of those who matter in policy or institutions, at the top level are generally unaware about them. While talking about Smart Villages at Vibrant, I appealed to the Honorable Minister of rural development, secretary and other colleagues in the government to have at least one lunch with the grassroots achievers in their domain every month. They will hopefully learn how to take risk, also how to convert initiatives into innovations without insisting on complete clarity of assurance from institutions or community about the outcome.  They will also begin to appreciate goodness in others less powerful and less privileged, rather than seeing merit only in the ideas which originate from their own mind. A corporate leader listening to my talk came to me after the talk and suggested: please ask each one of us to have one lunch a month with achievers in our own organizations, why only public servants and politicians. Isn’t this advice applicable to us as well. I had some years ago made this  appeal to then Chief Minister also. I am convinced that if we want to harness tremendous positive energy for social change, then we should learn to celebrate the self-triggered or antipoetic  efforts by common people and lower level staff.

I also suggested that they should take the resources, skills and ideas in  which villages are rich as the point of departure.  By definition, this attitude and approach makes us humble. And we listen, learn, and leverage ideas of others, our credit thus then lies is becoming Jamwant. Hanuman did not know his power, it was only Jamwant who pointed it out. Can each public policy functionary and others  assume the role of Jamwant and help bring out the goodness in others particularly the unsung heroes of our society at community level.

Another suggestion I made was that we should map under-utilised or unused resources in each village and then blend formal technologies with informal knowledge systems and create grassroots start-ups. I wondered why when we think of urban youth, we talk about start-ups but when we discuss the rural development, we can only think about skill development!! As if youth in rural areas cannot set up innovation based start-ups!

Now that season are changing, shall we learn to change our attitude towards social transformation as well. We should prioritize dalit and other disadvantaged youth in being given opportunity to set up ventures, companies and other enterprises. I am not saying other youth should be left out. They deserve opportunities no less. Let us hope next Sankranti will be a day of celebration with dreams of rural youth flying high with kites of achievement in the blue hazy sky.


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