NEW DELHI, Feb 27 � Contending that innovation is the only way to sustain India�s growth, the National Innovation Foundation says the government is not doing enough to promote innovations in local creativity, especially in underdeveloped areas, reports PTI.
�We have realized a considerable degree of neglect and indifference by the state as well as market forces for unleashing the local creativity and innovation. Generally, the state�s response has been lukewarm towards supporting local initiatives in underdeveloped areas like Champaran, Bastar, Cherrapunji and Arku Valley,� says Prof Anil Gupta, Vice Chairman, National Innovation Foundation (NIF).
�In some of the regions, the police, untrained as it is, to deal with civil society and its heterogeneity, paints the local communities with the same colour. The articulate local youth is seldom allowed to take leadership against the apathy and indifference of the institutions. By victimizing them, some are pushed into insurgency and some either migrate out or become quiet,� he says.
Maximum number of innovations have come from Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Manipur, Assam and Karnataka. A good number of innovations have come from artisans, farmers and mechanics. Women remain underrepresented.
NIF was established in 2000 by the Department of Science and Technology with the main goal of providing institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up grassroots innovations and helping their transition to self supporting activities.
�We have a culture that dubs innovation as craziness, but our success will be in identifying as many crazy people as we can so that this revolution can spread across India,� says Gupta.
He sees the relationship between innovation and the present educational system in India as counter productive, one which reinforces conformity and compliance at all levels.
�When students come out with creative ideas, most teachers and even parents discourage lateral or tangential thinking. If you look at the text books in schools or colleges, you will rarely find any reference to contemporary innovations in formal or informal sector. The question of inviting innovators to the class does not arise,� he says.
�Without dissent and diversity, how can creativity and innovation blossom. Therefore, it is very important to change the mindset of bureaucracy and political leadership towards such areas,� he adds.
From a scooter-powered flour mill, low-cost solution for sewage treatment, amphibious cycle to a clay fridge that need no electricity, NIF has more than 140,000 ideas, innovations and traditional knowledge practices from school or college dropouts and some even from arts graduates. Barring a few thousand ideas from children in cities as well, most ideas are from rural areas.
More than 260 technologies have been patented in the name of the innovators and about 60 technologies have been licensed to 70 small-scale entrepreneurs.
�We must acknowledge that the share of women innovators has been much lesser in our database so far. The major reason has been lack of women scouts and volunteers. We are trying to overcome this inadequacy by increasing the reach to women workers at grassroots, be it teachers, health workers or anganwadi workers,� says Gupta.
NIF is closely working with the China Innovation Network which has about 300 innovations.
�India and China can together make a profound impact with their traditional knowledge and innovative spirit. India and China are at the centre of the world�s attention today and this is the best time to capitalise on our strengths,� he says.
Although some of the innovations, like the powered- flour mill made a debut in the film �3 Idiots�, a good majority of these brilliant ideas and products are yet to find popularity among masses.
�We have been very successful in scouting innovations but not as successful in diffusing them. We purpose to use the services of media, Indian Railways and postal department, since they reach the widest possible people in India,� says Gupta.