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What can a District Collector do to promote innovations: an open letter

I have had the chance to meet many of you at LBSNAA foundation program during the last five years. LBSNAA Mussoorie and IIMA are likely to get into a longer term cooperation soon to promote inclusive and empathetic innovations in public services at all levels.

Let me share what each one of you could do to overcome persistent inertia and build bridges between creativity in formal and informal sector in society.

a) Mobilize college youth for social reconstruction in a time-bound, participative manner. Please have a meeting of all technical and arts college principals along with one more enthusiastic faculty to motivate them to set up National Innovation Club (see http://anilg.sristi.org/will-new-budget-support-creative-communities-and-young-inventors/ and http://anilg.sristi.org/inspired-teachers-need-for-changing-the-frame-of-reference/ ) chapter to search, spread, celebrate local innovations and outstanding TK and sense the unmet social needs. Once such a map of unmet needs of schools, communities, common facilities, resources, elderly, bio-waste or agri waste or underutilized forest or agro-forestry resources, panchayat, health center etc., are mapped, an agenda for decentralized partnership between communities, private sector, msme, public systems, students etc., begins to take shape. Our team at techpedia.in can connect volunteers, teachers and students in different colleges. IIT directors in the recent meeting with The President have been advised to connect with the communities and reskilling them.

b) Swaroop, the then Gandhinagar Collector and now MD iNDEXTb at Gandhinagar took a very bold step. He motivated the District Education Officer to organize idea competitions in more than 600 schools in the district generating about 5000 ideas in collaboration with Honey Bee Network. Out of these, five ideas were recognised on Feb 19 at Grambharati, a rural Gandhian institution by Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. One of them Chhaya, class seven, was invited to my class as guest faculty to share her experience in recognising a very serious problem of a primary school. The problem was that drinking water taps were at a height many small kids like her could not easily reach. She suggested titling the pipe to ease the problem. School teachers and community members then implemented her solution. Imagine young and dedicated District Collector, you discovering 20-30 such creative children from humble backgrounds and hosting them for a tea or milk party at your office or at some public festive function. It will galvanise the socially inclusive imagination of future leaders of our society.

The process is simple (nifindia.org/ignite). Every child is asked to imagine urgently needed improvement in existing products or services used by them, their parents, grandparents or community members or any one else in the world. They can also visualize any new product or service which does not yet exist in the world as per their knowledge. they can share their idea by making a sketch, or writing it on a plain paper with their name, class, contact information. The teacher can certify in the covering note that these ideas were collected on the spot and have not been influenced by teachers or parents. No problem if some ideas are seemingly absurd. If current year Ignite competition, Aug 31, is the last date. They can send even after that but for consideration in the next year’s contest. You can constitute a small jury which can sift interesting, intriguing and inspiring ideas.

In subsequent rounds, you can pose specific community challenges and ask students to consult whoever and send ideas for solving them from others as well as their own ideas in two different bundles.

c) Inviting outstanding socially responsible Individuals for tea or lunch every month once at least: Some of you may recall my suggestion at LBSNAA that while we have so many programs for encouraging CSR and other positive actions society, we seldom recognise those who are already imbued with such a positive spirit and go beyond their call of duty to serve society in sanitation, education, health, water supply or any other function of the state. Why not start this process. Listen, share, cross pollinate their ideas and spirit. This is what HBN is all about.

d) One can ask public and private entities located in the district to support such ventures by young people which have social or commercial potential. Take steps to setup country’s first District Level Innovation Incubator or sanctuary of innovation, as per the FM’s budget speech.

e) Activate DIF( district innovation fund) lying unused most likely), also MPLADS scheme has a provision under which MPs can support up to five innovations from their district/constituency. Ideas which affect the life of women, workers, children may be given priority. You may have your own ideas to test but more important is to help others fulfill themselves through you.

Never before the transition from entitlement to entrepreneurship approach so eloquent. Take this collective vision of our country to move forward through inclusive, extremely affordable, frugal and zero defect based environmentally safe innovative solutions for human and non-human sentient beings, nature.

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