Sustaining Sattvik spirit

Expanding collaborative, creative and collegial culture

anilkgupta

Anil K Gupta | January 28, 2013



At the IIM Ahmedabad campus, the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions (SRISTI) organised the 10th Sattvik traditional food festival, hosted an innovation exhibition by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), and facilitated farmers’ haat for organic produce to connect producers and consumers. Around 50,000 people visited Sattvik during December 29-31 but the issue about sustaining such platforms still remains open.

How do we sustain platforms which create public goods without necessarily mobilising much revenue beyond paid-out cost (not full cost of staff time and logistical costs) is a challenge which many groups in similar circumstances face. I thus suggest the model of pay-as-you-wish be triggered according to which everybody contributes annually a small or big amount and gets full accounts of how all the contributions were used.

Unless such platforms are sustained by society, one will either have to seek foreign funding which may or may not be forthcoming always or regularly, or appeal to stakeholders to contribute voluntarily. I think just as we give the first roti we cook to animals, we should develop a habit of contributing some amount to such causes every year or on every social or cultural occasion.

That way we will be able to sustain independent civil society voices untamed by markets and capable or pursuing an agenda for inclusive innovations and social development with complete transparency. A community of contributors and long-term stakeholders should do a social audit of such platforms and then mobilise their own social capital. Recently one of the major well-wishers of SRISTI made a contribution for the purpose so that matters on the agenda, like a study of life histories of centenarians or promotion of organic food, do not stumble for want of minimal support.

I hope that in the new year, every reader will make a resolution to support one such organisation which she/he believes contributes to the common good in a just, fair and transparent manner.

Let me list some of the short and medium term goals which will engage Honey Bee Network in coming months.

The seventh biennial presidential grassroots innovation award function will take place at the Mughal garden of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 7. The president will also inaugurate an innovation exhibition on the occasion, which will also be used to link innovators with all those who wish to add value and take them forward.

There is a proposal to develop a campus for integrated grassroots innovation eco-systems near Amrapur in collaboration with eminent social institutions. We are hopeful of partners and contributors who will join hands in making this a sustainable green community campus imbued with Honey Bee Network values.

Recent assembly elections revealed that there are several thousand centenarian voters in Gujarat. We are looking forward to have volunteers who will travel to different parts of the state, collect their blessings and also document the lessons of their life. Younger students will be preferred so that the values they imbibe will last for a longer time.

While linking technology students with micro, small and mid-sized enterprise (MSME) and informal sectors, we have realised that many students face difficulty in fabrication, testing and formulating their solutions. SRISTI wishes to pool a database of lab/workshop facilities which colleges or private firms wish to make accessible to deserving students to encourage a more flexible and friendly environment for pursuing solutions to real-life problems. The FAB lab set up with the help of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at Electronics & Quality Development Centre (EQDC), Gandhinagar, will also be made accessible to them.

The Sadhbhav-Sristi-Sanshodhan natural product lab already allows students from various universities to pursue their master’s work in our lab. It will be made accessible in three shifts to socially committed students. On March 27, SRISTI will have a function to bestow Gandhian technological innovation awards upon young technology students who have made outstanding contributions towards  solving social or MSME problems with the MLM (‘More from Less for Many’) approach or have pushed technological frontiers (For information: info@sristi.org).

A summer school on ‘Designs that Make a Significant Difference’ is also planned to bring various innovators and entrepreneurs and other professionals and innovators together. It will be a platform to empower young achievers who have a fire in their belly to make a difference.

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