It was after a week that I had a feast of ideas in a very wide range of domains across the country. It was apparent that despite all the cynicism that headlines in newspapers may generate in the mind of common people, the effort to create new performance benchmarks continues. The indefatigable spirit of those who believe in the future of the country deserves to be appreciated.
When Rajeev Chawla, secretary in Karnataka shared his experience at an innovation forum about why innovations like 'Bhoomi ' project (computerisation and delivery of 22 lakh land records to rural every landholder in rural areas) could succeed, he underlined a few lessons and concerns. Why should every administrator taking up a position want to undo what her predecessor had done; why should not there be a commitment to take an innovation accepted by all stakeholders to its logical conclusion; why should there be an act under which officers implementing important innovations will have the minimum stable tenure etc.
He was categorical that funding for seeding of innovations was still missing in most states. An important factor which made Bhoomi project so successful was that paper land records were made unacceptable after delivery of digital records was ensured. A pain point which still remained was the lack of similar data on urban land records.
That’s how an impersonator could have the audacity of selling land of an IIMA faculty to third party in Hyderabad. The concerned colleague is still going through the motions to reclaim what always belonged to him. In the context of archaic system of L1 and L2 in tendering system, it was mentioned that Brazil had reduced its public procurement cost by 40% by using reverse auction on line.
Ram Mohan Misra, a principal secretary in Meghalaya has introduced what may turn out to be a revolutionary step in due course. The government has established sec 25 companies in each district headed by the district collector, corporatising the administrative delivery and accountability. One may not fully appreciate the import of this step but given the century-old administrative system, degrees of freedom of DCs will certainly increase many-fold in developmental tasks, for other functions, they will rely on the existing system.
They have decided not to have any beneficiaries in the programmes, but only deal with entrepreneurs. Wish, all state governments pay attention to this transition. They have tried to follow what I call as the “sink to source” approach. That is, not treating the people as sink of advice, assistance and aid but considering them as the source of ideas, innovations and enterprises.
I was very impressed with the efforts made by Central Institute of Fisheries Technology in systematically studying the traditional technologies and institutions of fishing communities across India. They have a campus in Veraval and Vishakhapatnam also. After adding value to them, they have tried to improve the lives of the fishing communities, an admirable effort indeed. I wish this could be done more thoroughly given the increasing uncertainty in environment due to climate change effects. This experience along with many similar efforts will also be shared with the participants of International Conference on Creativity and Innovation at Grassroots ( ICCIG) being held at TUFE, China, from December 3 to December 5 and at IIMA between December 7 and December 8.
At the international roundtable on innovations for base of economic pyramid at a meeting organised by National Innovation Council, I met outstanding change agents. Rajendra Jagdale and his team has incubated hundreds of companies at science and technology park in Pune, many of which have developed globally competitive technologies in the field of water filtration, biomass gasification and energy generation at household level at low cost.
Earlier, I used to call it a Factor of Fifty, that is whatever comes in dollars, Indian innovators should make available in rupees. But I saw some examples of innovations which made water filtration possible at one tenth of the cost of world’s best technology and with no compromise in quality.