Indian Section of the Conference 7- 8 December 2012, Ahmedabad:
Session wise issues for discussion, debate and elaboration for designing future strategy:
ICCIG intends to harness the collective wisdom for empowering grassroots innovators and outstanding traditional knowledge holders in conformity with the values of Honey Bee Network. Several institutions have emerged in the last more than two decades to pursue policy, institutional, cultural, and educational changes not only in India but several other countries to ensure that the minds on the margin are not considered as marginal minds. Many countries which have witnessed rapid economic growth in this period have realized that inclusive development does not follow by merely having growth in certain sectors and regions and for limited social segments. But growth is necessary without impairing the ecological and social balance. The voice of creative people is beginning to be heard but slowly. The international innovation index developed by World Intellectual Property Organization has not yet begun to incorporate the creativity at grassroots in the computation of innovative potential of the society. But, they have shown interest in engaging with Honey Bee Network to repair this inadequacy. The conventional concept of National Innovation System also did not pay attention to the creativity and innovation in the informal sector. India perhaps is the only country which has at least acknowledged institutionally in the form of National Innovation Foundation, the need for broadening the national innovation system framework.
But whatever has happened is much less than what is expected. Unless a critical mass begins to change, long term widespread sustainable solutions will not come about. In a review paper, I have put together various policy and institutional initiatives, impacts and already identified gaps with the help of various colleagues in Honey Bee Network. It is hoped that this conference will provide a learning opportunity to all concerned for synergizing our respective efforts for a common goal. Communities deprived of material resources have little choice but to maximize mental resources. It is this simple realization that has not dawned on the policy makers around the world yet. But it is not possible to ignore it for too long. The democratic polity without inclusiveness cannot be sustained and inclusion without widespread institutional and policy reform is not feasible. Just to illustrate the chasm between intentions and actions, let us recall the first ICCIG in 1997. When it was realized that the transaction costs [ex ante and ex post] involved in handshaking of innovator, investor and entrepreneur will not disappear without handholding support, Gujarat government came forward to support establishment of GIAN [Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network]. The idea of micro venture fund based on a policy document circulated at the conference entitled, a case for SRISTI Venture Fund got concretised. An example of a tilting bullock cart was taken and the entire process of product development, testing, redesign, commercialization, licensing, etc., was mapped. The case for institutional support for the purpose was made. It took another six years to develop first Micro Venture Innovation Fund with the help of SIDBI [Small Scale Industries Development Bank of India]. Why is it that the discourse on financial intermediation at grassroots level has not progressed micro finance despite huge evidence provided by the Honey Bee Network for micro venture finance. Naturally, the policy making process is not a straight forward connection between the need, demand and the supply of institutional solutions. Similar gaps exist in many other areas. While deliberating on the future options, we have to also identify viable action research strategies through which we can fill those gaps no matter at what scale.
This conference has been designed to maximize interactions and minimize formal presentation. A script often arrests our ability to absorb, assimilate and accommodate ideas of others. We become defensive and protective of our own position. Growth of ideas suffers in the process. In the conference on Creativity and Innovation at Grassroots, we obviously cannot take a rigid position on any subject lest the scope for creative deviations is compromised.
Various issues are listed here as an illustrative example of the concerns we recognise in the Network. Participants are welcome to modify, add or substract upon these. We can only assure the stakeholders that a self-critical assessment of our strategies will strengthen our steps in the future journey. There are a few examples of so much having been attempted with so little resources as has been the case with the Network. The grassroots innovations still do not constitute even one per cent of the total budget for the science and technology in the country. But budget alone will not do the trick. The synergy between educational, institutional and cultural reforms is vital for technological and social innovations to make the desired impact on alleviating poverty and providing dignity to the entrepreneurial aspirations of the masses.
Session 1 & 2:
Future goals: are we asking for moon, or at least a share of it, but then why not? Shouldn’t every district have platforms and processes to support decentralised, distributed and diversified initiatives of the common people for bringing about innovative transformation in their lives?
Will the world change, will voices of creative communities influence the way future unfolds?
Will the sustainable lifestyles, frugal products and services and Humble Inquiry dominate future?
Will educational institutions reorganise themselves to open their gates to learn from common people and redefine the purpose of inclusive learning, sharing and growing?
Policy and institutional interventions
A. How do innovations in each sector reduce unit cost and improve efficiency?
B. To what extent externalities are internalised in the process of evolution and diffusion of grassroots innovations?
C. How do we identify organisational insurgent working in nearly impermeable institutions to expand policy and institutional space for creative people?
D. Given the initiatives taken by NIF and other institutions of Honey Bee Network, what are the areas where they need to make a radical change in their style, substance and strategy?
F. Is it possible that in each sector, an institutional space is created for seeking, spawning and sustaining grassroots innovations?
Financial and ICT of innovations:
What are the new instruments one has to devise to support conversion of ideas into prototypes /pilot projects, development of products or programmes and dissemination of utilities among the masses through the commercial and non-commercial channels?
What role can emerging ICT infrastructure aiming to provide broadband connection to all the villages play in promoting lateral learning and making society more horizontal rather than vertical as at present?
What are the risks and chances that may affect the reliance on people’s ideas without blending them with modern science, technology and institutions organically?
Given the possibility that not all innovations at grassroots may be sustainable, what kinds of metrics be generated to evaluate different parameters of sustainability at local level?
Session 4 [i]
What are the policy and institutional changes required to incentivise the actors involving value chain development for various kinds of innovations?
What are the models of benefit sharing which need to be integrated with the professional norms?
Session 4 [ii]
What are the specific material and non-material incentives required for individual and groups to encourage sharing of knowledge and development of horizontal supply chain?
How can one blend the ideas of open source with the IP protection such that people to people learning is not stifled?
Can the concept of the technology commons provide sufficient space for such blending to take place?
How can the role of Grassroots Technological Innovation Acquisition Fund [GTIAF] be expanded to widen the choices of common people in terms of improving their livelihoods?
Session 7 [i]
How can cultural entrepreneurship be promoted so that the living traditions of our society are not denuded?
How do we learn the lessons of sustainability from the lives of centenarians?
Can cultural creativity be harnessed to transform the social violence towards a more constructive social engagement?
Are there untapped potentials in the cultural repertoire of local communities which current policy and institutions have failed to tap to promote inclusive development?
Session 7 [ii]
How can the power of technology and management youth be harnessed to solve the problems of MSME and informal sector?
Why is there so much diffidence among the leaders of technical universities and state departments to harness the power of youth for rebuilding the social relations of production?
Can one think of a national innovation service instead of only relying on national social service scheme for mobilising youth for engaging with society?
Given the low standards of school education in public systems, how to get the middle class interested in patronising these schools?
What are the instruments that can be used for incentivising innovative teachers for spreading their innovations?
Why are public institutions so hesitant in creating a social or educational venture fund to promote risky experiments by the teachers to make education more inclusive and nurturant?