In the two and half decades of its existence, the Honey Bee Network (HBN) has initiated and spawned many efforts to highlight the untapped potential of grassroots innovators in alleviating poverty and generating sustainable development. However, it is important to introspect, debate, analyse and improve upon the limitations of the Network and how to best serve the grassroots innovators and traditional knowledge holders. The first International Conference on Creativity and Innovation at the Grassroots (ICCIG) was held in 1997. The ideas exchanged on this platform gave rise to Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) in 1997. In 15 years, though, the global understanding on the matter had increased, there were areas where much was still expected. Some concepts needed to be understood and debated. Hence, the second ICCIG Conference was organised at Tianjin (Dec 3-5, 2012), China and Ahmedabad (Dec 7-8, 2012), India. The Conference aimed at gauging the state-of-the-art, reinforcing the Network’s values, and consolidating the lessons learned over the last 24 years.
In the first part of the conference over 65 delegates from different countries viz. India, China, South Africa, South Korea, Zimbabwe, Switzerland, Japan, Mexico and Germany participated. Innovators associated with the Network, Mansukhbhai Patel [Cotton Stripping machine, Gujarat], Dipak Bharali [Magnetic bobbin for design making in handlooms, Assam] and C Mallesham [Asu making machine, Andhra Pradesh], participated in the Conference.
The Conference was attended by many Chinese innovators, collaborators and policymakers. Some of the innovators featured in the Network’s publications like Chen Guangxing, Lv Shengzhan, Ding Wendou, and Li Rongbiao were also present. Also present were various dignitaries from China’s academia, industry and polity. Many interesting projects by TUFE students were also presented. Some of these were not only novel but also had maturity and pragmatism of the kind associated with seasoned practitioners.
International perspectives were also brought forward in panel discussions. The Chinese section ended on a high note with innovators admitting to have gained better understanding of Prof Liyan Zhang and her team’s work in China and passionately demanding a stronger network there.
In the second part of the Conference at IIM Ahmedabad, about 150 participants including innovators, innovative teachers, and participants from different countries participated in the discussions over the two days. The sessions started on a nostalgic note. Prof Kuldeep Mathur recounted his association with Prof Anil K Gupta and the early days of struggle which he and the other members and supporters of the Network went through to make the Honey Bee Network a thriving reality.
The Ahmedabad section of the conference deliberately allowed for interactive sessions. Discussions on incentives to grassroots innovators, intellectual property protection, alternative models of incentives and attribution, structures of dynamic and static multilingual databases, strengthening online and offline platforms, identifying policy gaps, making innovation ecosystem more robust, respecting and promoting cultural creativity, education and tools for promoting a creative pedagogy took place.
The Ahmedabad Declaration was drafted taking into view ideas from Tianjin and Ahmedabad. The declaration and a detailed report of the Conference will be made available shortly.