Written by : IFD Rohan Singh (Batch 2012-13)
On Education and Innovation:
- There are Five lakh technology students in the country, each one of them does a project but nobody knows what happens to these projects. If we create an innovation relay or kho kho, then one project developed in one college may be taken forward in another, and another, till it becomes a product. Neither the problems of small sector and the informal sector are posed to the students nor do they get a chance to work with the grassroots innovators. We should connect them, mentor them, and support them. If just one per cent of the projects solved the real life problems partially or completely, we would solve at least 5000 problems per year. We need to give feed forward to them from SSIs and other social sectors. At the same, their ideas can and should go in cases where applicable, to market. We will eliminate project-writing industry, put premium on originality, and in the process create/reinforce a culture of creativity, collaboration, and compassion. Department of Information Technology, Media Lab Asia and Knowledge (C)omission may ignore it for present but then time of such an idea has come and already a few vice chancellors of a few universities have agreed to take it forward. A few hundred projects have already been pooled through volunteer students from various IITs who have worked with me on this in past. If we allow our young minds to get satisfied with anything that is not original, innovative and creative then, all their life they would have the tendency of being satisfied too early with too little. They will also not develop sensitivity towards problems unsolved around them, in their own discipline and profession.
- There are about 172 districts in India where the writ of the sovereign nation does not completely run. Various kinds of ultra left activists have taken upon themselves the responsibility of dispersing justice and maintaining order. Despite the fact, that violence can never achieve solution to any problem, the violence by state will also be counter –productive. Can we have an innovation insurgent programme so that having betrayed the poor people in terms of Jal, Jungle and Jamin in the fight on Jankari, i.e., knowledge rights, we don’t let them suffer. National Knowledge (C)ommission is disengaged from the minds of majority. History will judge the morality of this disengagement.
- In primary education, Prof. Vijaya Sherry Chand started a similar search for innovations, by primary school teachers without support from the state. There is no doubt that in education, a similar transformation will take place. The only problem is that many of these solutions don’t need much money but require time. Recently, the postal department has requested IIM-A to help them develop an innovation reward system. Their first suggestion to them was to make each postman a scout for creative ideas. Imagine a map of the creative minds of this country once made and renewed every year will forever remove the stigma on inertia and conservatism on common people for all the time. At the same time, a culture of initiative, innovation, sharing and creating a common good at local level will also be institutionalized.
- National Innovation Foundation has pooled more than 70000 innovations and traditional knowledge practices from over 500 districts beginning with about 12000 in February 2000. How many of these innovations are known to the children in schools or colleges? How many are being tried or tested in farmers’ fields or artisanal workshops. A large number of these are open source, though for some patents have been filed and obtained in India, US and elsewhere. How can science and technology, education, culture and other developmental departments engage with creative people in the informal sector and turn around the mood of the society? The bridge between the formal and informal science is beginning to deliver results (partnership between NIF with ICMR and CSIR has delivered some useful results already). Nevertheless, a lot more remains to be done. Why should it not be mandatory for every publicly funded educational institution to engage with an informal knowledge sector of the country so that all taxpayers get their due? Since indirect taxes are regressive and they generate more revenue for the government, poorer people pay more taxes than the rich do. In addition, it will also give educational institutions to learn from the economic ‘have-nots’ and knowledge ‘haves’.
- Deviant research triggers lateral thinking and tangential pursuits. Can we create ten per cent allocation in every scheme for those who find problems with the existing rules coming in the way to serve larger society? We also provide incentives to reduce unit cost in every sector and try approaches radically different from what is current dogma, or ‘truth’. Pursuit of dissent, deviance, and diversity will provide a model for sustainable development. Any other mirage is misplaced.