Thousands of grassroots innovations in India and many other countries indicate that farmers, artisans, mechanics, and others at the grassroots have relied on their own inventiveness to tackle their local challenges. In the absence of external assistance, their only alternative is to devise their own answers, which, in many situations, may be applicable to similar challenges elsewhere. Traditional communities have been making the most use of accessible bio-resources for medical and other purposes since the dawn of humanity. It is necessary to adequately recognise and document such distinct herbal methods and developments.
In addition to protecting biodiversity and promoting creative thinking, this has another very important purpose, which is to preserve knowledge and biological resources. Exploring or seeking such knowledge/innovation is the first step to achieve this goal, aiming to discover and recognize grassroots innovations and traditional knowledge practices in rural and urban areas. But it is worth emphasizing that even in most developed regions, urban fringe areas, slums and other places, we can always find functional traditional knowledge and grassroots innovations.
The journey of exploration involves extensive field trips, traveling in rural and urban areas, in search of “quirky” experimenters, local communities, and experts in social knowledge. Students are also encouraged during the summer to discover these creative people. Our volunteers and well-wishers have contributed the most in helping us to reach grassroots innovators and outstanding traditional knowledge holders in every corner of the country and across the world.
There are multiple methods to source or discover ideas which could potentially help address unmet needs. Various channels and networks can be used to reach out to the grassroots Innovators in extraordinary geographies and sectors. Piggy backing on present networks allows reaching the farthest corner with little or no extra fee. The following are a number of mechanisms and channels that we use to scout innovations:
Idea (and problem sensing) competitions
GIAN conducts idea competitions amongst children, polytechnic and business education Institutes (ITI) and engineering college students, common people GIAN is presently developing a database of unmet social needs. Frequently, children’s ideas or answers do not get awards in competitions because their ideas won’t be feasible or right. However, the problem they chose is very relevant. So, the idea is to understand children who are very perceptive of the issues that they or others face.
Technological Interventions are solicited for specific challenges that we issue from time to time. The best ideas are then appreciated and supported by GIAN.
Each year, GIAN invites polytechnic and ITI students collaboratively with other HBN institutions, to work on technological solutions to unmet needs. The individuals are free to work on the problem they identify or problems we as long as they deal with a really described hassle of the communities, especially the deprived sections. For three weeks they work, ideate, take feedback at different stages and are guided with the aid of experts from around the world. In one such workshop a student, Sanket Panchal identified the problems of tea sellers. The kettle is heavy and even as sporting it across, spillage is a trouble. With the help of mentors, he made a Bag kind of Insulated Backpack Dispenser which can be carried like a backpack and is well insulated so it can keep it hot for at least 4 hours. GIAN gave incubation support to this start-up by connecting them to one of the biggest tea brands as well as government agencies.
These workshops bring children from both privileged and underprivileged sections to visit different places where labourers, migrants and deprived sections of the society stay. Day 1 is spent on site visit, problem identification and brainstorming on the possible solutions. On day 2, children pick one idea from the plethora of solutions and refine them. They make sketches, models and narratives and present their ideas.
Hundreds of volunteers have helped the Honey Bee network make its database. Those volunteers come from different backgrounds like mechanics, students, scientists, instructors, and many others. We are grateful to the volunteers who help us to reach remote corners.
Many of the innovations were scouted in the shodhyatras and later incubated at GIAN. SRISTI, in collaboration with other Honey Bee network institutions, conducts Shodhyatras (Shodh= exploration, research; Yatra= journey) all across India. Volunteers of the network, led by our founder Prof. Anil K Gupta, walk in different parts of the country.