It is true that necessity is the mother of innovation, but creativity is its father. Creativity among children is almost in-born; the degree may vary, but not the basic manifestation. There are many children who are more creative and innovative than adults. They are open to exploration, experimentation and discovery. "While our generation was willing to live with problems unsolved indefinitely, our children don't want to do that anymore," says Anil Gupta, founder, Honey Bee Network. Children today look at things with fresh eyes and a perspective untainted by everyone else's opinion. "They learn about their world around them by pushing the limits, discovering what's possible and what's not," he adds.
Take for example the city buses in India. Most of us have seen bus drivers driving away before the passengers have either boarded the bus or alighted. It doesn't matter if anyone falls down and gets injured. However, apart from just cribbing about such problems in our drawing rooms or office corridors, we do nothing. Mercifully enough, the new generation of children are not so tolerant with inefficiency any more.
R. Santhosh, Class 11, from Tamil Nadu couldn't live with this problem so he suggested that a bus should not start as long as there is anyone standing on the steps of the bus. He calls it the 'Step Lock System in Bus'. "Hopefully, it will become part of the standards for making buses so that no child woman or man would ever fall from the steps of the bus because the driver is in a hurry or the transport authorities don't care," says Nitin Maurya, innovative officer, National Innovation Foundation.
All of us need access to creativity to solve the problems of daily life, even if it is as petty as getting away from being scolded by your parents. Kulsoom Rizavi, a Class 5 student from Lucknow is a case in point. She used to get reprimanded by her mother regarding her faulty posture. "Whenever I used to sit at the computer or was watching TV, I would either lie down or sit too close to the screen," recollects Rizavi.
One day Rizavi was upset because of the scolding, and that's when the idea to create a "posture correcting chair" struck her mind. "I thought how good it would be if instead of my mother yelling at me all the time, the chair on which I sit alerts me about the wrong posture," she says.
Currently, Rizavi is working on the prototype of the chair which works through electricity. The real chair however, will work on battery so that one can carry it anywhere. "The mechanism will have bio sensors attached at the back of the chair which will detect if the user is sitting in the wrong posture. It will then send signals to an alarm which will be attached at the back of the chair and it will start to ring. The alarm would keep ringing till the person corrects his/her posture," informs Rizavi. She hopes that the entire nation would benefit from her innovation. "This would contribute to a healthier India. I hope to develop more such innovative projects," she adds.
Kids like Rizavi and Santhosh are here to make a difference. Soumya Ranajan Behera, a class VIII student from Odisha, also has an innovative mind. He evolved the concept of an alarm to indicate an onset of convulsions/ seizures. "It is a device to be worn by an epileptic patient which will blow a siren when there is an episode of epilepsy," informs Behera.
Behera's friend who suffered from epilepsy, a neurological disorder, lost his life due to an episode that occurred when he was bathing in the village pond. "Although there were some who were nearby, no one noticed him fall. This made me think of different ways I could've prevented it. If there was a kind of device put on the patient that would emit a siren when the episode occurs, it could save lives," he says.
Anyone can be innovative, it is just that an ecosystem needs to be there to identify and nurture these ideas. The biggest challenge such innovative children face is of acceptability. Their peers, friends, teachers and even parents may mock at their creative pursuits and discourage them. "We can't give children talent, but we can train the eye, the ear and the mind, and we can help our children gain access to a creative way of seeing. We can also help them gain the concentration, competence, perseverance, and optimism necessary to succeed in creative pursuits," says Gupta.
Originality, creativity and innovative spirit among children need to be promoted so that when they become leaders of our society, they ensure an imaginative, inclusive and an innovative future for the country. Many a times an innovative mind is left unattended and who knows maybe your child could be the next Einstein. "In my opinion not only parents, teachers or family members, but everyone should always encourage children instead of discouraging them because today's youth is tomorrow's future," concludes Maurya.
Make the change to see the change, says Anil Gupta
Each school should set up innovation clubs to pursue four goals: search, spread, sense [unmet needs] and celebrate innovations
Children should be engaged in benchmarking societal inertia so that the future will overcome deeply institionalised inertia
We should encourage children to start up enterprise if some of them wish
We could give concession in marks and attendance to innovative children if need be, and also scholarships to underprivileged children
School textbooks should include examples of innovation by children and innovators