When smartphone is not very smart! Youth beware!


I happened to meet several groups of young students and scholars in NIT and IIT’s during last week. One of the concern I have is that large number of very bright young technological and management students ( science students seem to suffer less from this problem) get easily distracted by messages and notifications on which have be. Lot of productive energy of youth all over the country is getting dissipated by trivia being exchanged on phone. A serious tragedy of our time is that urgent is becoming important, not the other way round.

As most readers know, whenever we concentrate on any subject, a tension build up in our mind. Just when we are about to use accumulated tension to make a breakthrough, we get distracted and the tension gets dissipated. Productive tension is like a string of sitar, without optimal tension, the resonance will not be there, depth will be missing.

Is smartphone taking a toll of national concentration index? Are we in a for a time when a  lot of very bright young students will do very well for long time but fall short of making a breakthrough? Time has to come give daily break to phone for 4-6 hours so that addiction to trivia can be overcome. It is not just students but many others who have a habit of  looking at their phone even when no earth shaking news or message  is expected.

Without improving concentration index, we obviously can not improve innovation index either. I hope that young and old will consider debating this issue in every home, office, workshop, lab and class!

Let me share a few other concerns that I shared with students. I asserted again my serious concern about worsening upload to download ration of content in our premier labs and institutions. It is time that leader of each academic institution starts monitoring this ratio. A country will not lead in knowledge economy unless it shares openly various assignments, projects and ideas with the rest of the world. And thus lets the global  peer assess the worth of an idea. There may be biases in western citation behaviour but within the developing world, there is a huge community of knowledge workers,  thinkers and managers who are looking for new anchors of social discourse, debate and dissenting ideas.

I must also share a very happy news with those who support the Honey Bee Network and those who may be still thinking about doing so. This time there were four unsung heroes among the fifteen chosen by the government bestowed with Padma award. Out of these four, three were recognised by The Honey Bee Network through a SRISTI  Samman and one had received The Presidential grassroots innovation award by the National Innovation Foundation.  The three SRISTI Samman awardees were: Baba Seenchwal Ji, Punjab who mobilised local community to clean Kali ben river in Jullundhar district. Something that government has not been able to do in many parts of the country, his example hopefully inspires many more community leaders and groups to do likewise and clean local lakes and rivers. Genabhai Patel from Banaskantha district make the region a leader in pomegranate  cultivation and even exports. In the initial years he would fund the cost of planting seedlings till the farmers concerned got convinced and paid back the loan. He delivered a very interesting lecture at the inaugural session of  third International Conference on Creativity and Innovation at Grassroots, (ICCIG), IIMA Jan, 2015. He said, when we exchange an pomegranate with another person, we still have only one fruit. But we exchange one idea with another person, each person has two ideas. There was a huge applause for his observation.

D Ramaiah, Andhra Pradesh is said to have planted tens of thousand trees and helped in planting many more. I wish Premji Bapa of UPLETA, Saurashtra will also be recognised before it is too late for millions of trees he planted first  on motorbyke and then through a specially designed vehicle for the purpose.

Mallesham, Andhra Pradesh,  who invented Aasu system for  pochham palli sarees reducing the drudgery of women involved in the process also got the Padma award. He not only got NIF’s national award, MVIF investment to become an enterpreneur but also spent two weeks at The President’s House as innovation Scholar in residence.

I hope that the spirit of sharing that these innovator shave shown will be imbibed by tech youth also and thus Make India largest provider of open source socially useful content.


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