SRISTI recently organised 10th Sattvik Traditional Food Festival, hosted innovation exhibition by NIF and facilitated farmers’ haat for organic produce to connect producers and consumers. About 50,000 people visited the food festival in the three days, but the issue of sustaining such platforms continues to remain a question.
Sustaining such platforms, which create public goods without necessarily mobilising much revenue beyond paid-out cost (and not cost of staff-time and logistics), is a challenge that many groups in similar circumstances face. May I thus suggest that model of pay-as-you-wish be triggered, according to which everybody contributes annually and gets full account of how all contributions were used.
Unless national building platforms are sustained by society, one will either have to seek foreign funding that may or may not be forthcoming always or regularly, or appeal to stakeholders to contribute voluntarily. Just as we take our first bread, we cook for birds or other animals and should develop habit of contributing some amount to such causes every year, or on every social or cultural occasion.
This way, we will be able to sustain independent civil societies, voices untamed by markets or societies and capable or pursuing an agenda for inclusive innovations and social development with complete transparency. A community of contributors and long-term stakeholders should conduct social audits of such platforms and then mobilise their social capital. Recently, one of the major well-wishers made a contribution to SRISTI to sustain agendas like study of life histories of centenarians or promotion of organic food. I hope that every reader, in the New Year, resolve to support one organisation that he/she believes in, and contributes to the common good in a just, fair and transparent manner.
In the meanwhile, I enlist a few of the short and medium-term goals, which will engage Honey Bee Network in coming months.
The 30th Shodhyatra will take place in Manipur from January 12-17, where we will try to learn, share and contribute towards the peace process. The seventh biennial presidential grassroots innovation award function will take place in Mughal Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 7. The President will also inaugurate an innovation exhibition on the occasion. This event will also link innovators with those who wish to add value and take them forward.
There also is a proposal to develop a campus for integrated grassroots innovation near Amrapur, in collaboration with eminent social institutions. We are hopeful of partners and contributors, who can join hands in making this campus a sustainable and green one, imbued with values of Honey Bee Network. The recently concluded elections showed that there are hundreds of centenarian voters in Gujarat. We are looking for volunteers who will travel to them, collect their blessings and also document lessons from their lives. Youngsters are preferred, as the values imbibed will last a longer time ahead.
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.
Next week, I will share with you a brief analysis of comments that hundreds of mourners put at white boards of homage kept at Sattvik, in remembrance of the valiant girl. If wider social engagement is institutionalised in our society, then nothing can stop making rulers more accountable and responsive to the aspirations of common people. I hope that all readers will engage with the agenda outlined here and contribute in making our society more inclusive and considerate.
(The author is a professor at IIMA)