If we do not feel anything about what we know, we know really less. If we do not know anything about what we know and feel, we know even less – Prof. Anil K Gupta, renowned researcher and founder of Honey Bee Network, began his inspiring talk with this quote. He was delivering the distinguished lecture titled “Frugality is not just about affordability” organised on 17th March 2015 by the University of Hyderabad (UoH).
Prof.Anil K Gupta is a Professor in Centre for Management in Agriculture at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad (IIM-A). He is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science and Executive Vice-Chair of National Innovation Foundation. He was awarded Padma Shri by Government of India in 2004 for his contributions to management education. He is also the Co-ordinator of SRISTI (Society for Research and Initiative for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions).
While talking about technology and innovations, Prof. Gupta questioned the notion that frugal innovation is relevant only for poor. He said that frugality is not just about affordability but also about circularity, accessibility, availability and adaptability. Noting that frugality in innovations can create circular economy where very less waste is produced and everything else finds new uses – a concept called ‘cradle to cradle’ as against the more prevalent ‘cradle to death’. He compared this circular economy to the natural ecosystem in which nothing goes waste. “In India we fill our environment with waste without thinking about sustainability”, he said adding that we use one rupee sachets regularly because they are affordable but we never ask if this practice is sustainable.
He used the word Samvedana to explain his thoughts on innovation. Samvedana means the capacity of human beings to not just feel the pain of drudgery of others, but to take that pain on to oneself and find a solution. “Innovation that comes out of Samvedana is the need of the society, as then it becomes self-driven”. He also added that better innovations can happen through sharing of knowledge.
While agreeing that Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection is an important clog for industrial growth, he stressed the importance of people to people interaction being done through open source information, a concept practiced a few bigger corporates who have opened up their patents to public for use without licensing fee, thus creating a fertile ground for more innovations from outside.
“Dilbara dimaag bada”, he summed up the result of innovations that comes from the unmet needs of society. “People who are most respected and privileged are more cynical about the future while people having nothing are more optimistic”, he said. Being optimistic is very important in creating innovations. If a person identifies a problem and shares it, someone else may find a solution for that problem. Openness of mind to share the information is the first requirement for solving a lot of local problems, he observed.
He urged educationists and university authorities across the country to invite innovators as adjunct faculty to inspire students. Citing many examples of local innovations, Prof. Gupta asked students to sense the unmet needs of society.
He congratulated the University on winning the Best Central University award and reminded that it is not just a moment of jubilation but also has to shoulder the responsibility of continuing the excellent research work and lead other institutions in the field of innovation.
-By Joyel K Pious, MA-Communication