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Trail of ideas: From Siberia to Surendranagar

Sunday, 22 December 2013 - 1:06pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: dna

Honey Bee Network has been building bridges across different languages and cultures within India and across the world in about 70 countries. So far, the strongest network outside India was in China. Now, the seeds have been sown in Russia too. A young faculty, Olga, had come from Russia to visit us and understand the processes through which creativity and innovation at grassroots level is linked with communities, corporations and colleges. I had a chance to visit a potters’ village in Siberia where we got an extremely warm reception. Andrea, a highly skilled potter, is now visiting India and is showcasing his ceramic pots at the ongoing Sattvik Food Festival at IIMA new campus. The pots that he has made exhibit the blend between the culture of creativity in the workshop of Mansukhbhai Prajapati of Mitticool clay fridge fame and the knowledge traditions of Siberia. One of the first questions that Andrea asked Mansukbhai was about the way he designed ceramic pots. Actually Mansukbhai didn’t design ceramic pots. He made pots in which water is kept cool through evaporation, but ceramic pots are water-proof.

Andrea then shared the technology of making water-proof ceramic pots with beautiful Siberian design by soaking a clay pot in milk and then baking them in high temperature, cooling them and baking them again. Not only do these ceramic pots last long but can also be used to store provisions including milk and juice in the refrigerator or outside if one so wishes.

Andrea will join the Shodh Yatra in Punjab and share his knowledge with his counterparts.

Despite the fact that Russia has been a strong friend of India, we have very limited trade and even more limited exchange of people among these two countries. Time has come to build the bridges that will cross-fertilise the ideas and innovative culture.

Sattvik 2013 has many more experiments. Elaben, founder of SEWA while lighting the inaugural lamp, appealed to all to consume as many products as possible made within a short distance and grow crops and make other products with inputs drawn from as close a region as possible.

Shri Joravar Singh who has made a huge contribution to the conservation and augmentation of folk cultural forms on the verge of extinction in Gujarat also spoke on the occasion. The Sattvik Traditional Food Festival, in his view, was a collective platform for highlighting the noble and pious efforts of communities in different parts of country. It is a platform where IIMA, municipal corporation, police and all other wings of administration make a quiet contribution to ensure that visitors get imbued with the spirit of excellence, empathy, efficiency, environment, education and equity and ethics.

There are children who, as a part of basic education [Nai talim], learn how to combine materials in different proportions to make different products with variety of attributes. They calculate the cost and then sell these products at Sattvik festival to learn about accounting. Vinay and Charu sang a song at the inaugural function for organic farmers who have gathered in large numbers, like every year, to showcase their distinctive outputs which many of us have never tasted. The direct connection between consumer and producer is fundamental for any society to assimilate authenticity in public discourse. More consumers ought to vote in the market place to conserve diversity of crop varieties, cuisine, culture and creativity.

Another idea Elaben seeded in our minds while giving awards to winners of recipe competition on Friday was to help these winners become entrepreneurs. This is an idea which SRISTI, NIF and GIAN will take forward with the support of social investors.

I have earlier talked about social innovation fund to support ideas in various fields even if they cannot pay for themselves but can have social impact. A meeting is planned with the potential and existing social investors to operationalise social innovation fund at 9 am at Sattvik ground on Sunday. The plan is to meet every fortnight physically or virtually and support social innovation ideas. Look forward to receiving more creative volunteers who would like to take Sattvik vichar [noble idea] to convert them into Sattvik

vyavahar [practice] so that it becomes our samajik sanskar [social value].

The author is a professor at IIMA

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