Pursuit of inclusive innovations today is considered not only essential but also inevitable for sustainable development. However, the role of grassroots innovators in achieving such a process of development has remained less appreciated except may be in India, China and to some extent Malaysia, Indonesia and a few other countries.
Including the excluded in the process of development has become a worldwide concern because the patience of the excluded is running out. The need for harmonious or inclusive development is being articulated by the major Asian economies like China and India. Other countries including the OECD ones are also debating different ways of harnessing the creative potential of masses to make the process of development more participatory and also innovative. The concept of the national innovation system has undergone complete transformation in India by incorporating the knowledge and innovations of common people in the formal S&TI system. There is a need to bring about such a transformation everywhere. No more is the formal R&D system considered equivalent to the innovation system. Even the large corporations have begun to look for ideas from strangers, users, observers, supply chain members and other people outside the organisation. There is no way that national governments can ignore the role grassroots innovations can play in the redesign of policies, institutions and social interactions to make society more fair and just.
Persistent efforts by numerous volunteers of the Honey Bee Network around the world over the last two and a half decades have considerably expanded the global understanding of the potential of grassroots innovators in alleviating poverty and generating sustainable development. However, a lot more remains to be done and understood. The second international conference on Creativity and Innovations at Grassroots [ICCIG] follows up the recommendations of the first ICCIG held at IIMA in collaboration with SRISTI in January 1997. The impact of the first conference was witnessed in the form of founding GIAN (1997) and later NIF (2000). Another international workshop on Building a Global Value Chain around Green Grassroots Innovations (GRI) and Traditional Knowledge [May 31 – June 2, 2007, TUFE Tianjin University of Finance and Economics] was organised to provide mentoring, incubation and online support to innovators and entrepreneurs in China, Brazil and India through a project supported by infoDev at SRISTI. The Tianjin Declaration for Promoting Green Grassroots Innovation for Harmonious Development was issued on the occasion [see annexure]. It commemorates the international solidarity for harmonious and inclusive development to support merging of grassroots, scientific, technological and institutional innovations and traditional knowledge. SRISTI had also organised capacity building workshops in six south-eastern countries in collaboration with APCTT and DSIR, GOI to trigger GRI movement during 2007-8.
It is therefore most appropriate that the second ICCIG Conference is organised from December 3rd – 5th (noon) at TUFE, Tianjin City, China and December 7th – 8th, 2012 at IIMA.
We propose to take stock of the current state of art in this field and consolidate the lessons of almost 25 years of research and action on the subject through the Honey Bee Network. We also wish to learn from other explorers who have done empirical work or are concerned about the issues raised here and wish to influence policy in various countries at different levels.
India has included Grassroots Innovations (GRI) as an inalienable part of its National Innovation System and China has also started giving considerable attention to the subject. Outside India, China has the largest database of grassroots innovations. There is a need to learn from the comparative experience of India and China pursued as a project of Grassroots Innovations for Inclusive Development (GRIID) and to explore the opportunities for scaling up this experience.